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With a significant use increase of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, more appropriate energy storage technologies are being developed to meet the supply and demand. The International Energy Agency estimates that through 2026, renewable energy will be responsible for approximately 95% of the growth in the world’s power capacity. For such a low carbon society, we must create innovative solutions to house such advancements.
In a recently published research study, an idea was proposed for a gravitational-based energy storage system that makes use of elevators and vacant apartments in tall buildings. This new concept, named Lift Energy Storage Technology (LEST), will store energy by lifting wet sand containers or other high-density materials that are remotely moved in and out of a lift using autonomous trailer devices. Scitechdaily.com writes that LEST is an intriguing possibility since high-rise buildings already have elevators built, thus there is no need for more investment or space occupancy but rather uses what is already there in a novel manner to produce value for the electrical grid and the building owner.
According to the study authors, the main challenge in making a gravity energy storage solution viable is the power capacity cost. The most important benefit of LEST is that the power capacity is already installed in lifts with regenerative braking systems. There are over 18 million lifts in operation globally, and many of these spend a significant amount of time sitting still. The idea is that when the lifts are not being used to transport people, they can be used to store or generate electricity.
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