Since the beginning of climate change awareness, there has been a push to develop technologies that reduce our carbon footprint without sacrificing the ease and accessibility of modern living. What started as a technological revolution in the 1880s, with the invention of the first solar panel, has somewhat stagnated. Majority of the cars on the road are still oil-based, many electrical grids of modern cities rely on coal and natural gas, and the average household still spends enormous amounts of money on utility bills. Technologies that utilize renewable sources of energy have existed for a long time, but they are held back by issues such as its reliability. Solar energy might work effectively for a desert city but is likely impractical for cities where rainfall is present, on average, over one-third of the year.
This problem highlights the need for effective storage so that solar energy can be used on a rainy day. While some of the prevailing storage technologies provide a solution, they present other financial and environmental concerns. According to Bill Gates, the average household would need to spend three times their current energy bill to run on renewable energy. As most renewable energy is stored through large lithium-ion batteries, living off of renewable energy can be expensive. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries are notorious for degrading due to overuse or over-heating, releasing dangerous chemicals into the earth. For a climate change solution, it seems that lithium-ion batteries may bring more environmental concerns.
With so many issues present in the current green energy sector, it’s not surprising that legislation has come to a standstill while engineers and scientists go back to the drawing board to build the next great storage solution. Perhaps to pave the way forward, it’s important to take a look back. That’s the strategy that Amber Kinetics used in their innovation of a flywheel-based kinetic energy storage solution (KESS). As the world leader in kinetic energy storage, Amber Kinetics has designed a storage solution based on a familiar technology. The flywheel has its roots in primitive potters’ wheels and has since been used in many other ways, such as steam locomotives and even high-end race cars. Versatile and surprisingly simple in its design, the flywheel is attached to a rotor that receives energy from a primary source. The rotor turns this energy into kinetic energy, the energy of motion, causing the flywheel to start spinning.
Unlike lithium-ion batteries, kinetic energy solutions do not make use of chemicals and do not degrade. Amber Kinetics’ innovative storage solution, the M32 flywheel, has a power capacity of 8kW per unit and a discharge duration of four hours. When these units are combined, the flywheels can be scaled up to tens or even hundreds of megawatts. The flywheel’s all-steel design ensures recyclability and does not contain any hazardous materials. With a 30 year lifespan, low operation and maintenance cost, and ability to operate in a wide range of temperatures, the flywheel presents a promising energy solution.
As more countries grapple with the effects of climate change, from extreme weather to declining ecosystems, there has never been a greater need for progress in the renewable energy sector. Amber Kinetics’ technology paves the way for green energy accessibility through its revolutionary flywheel technology.