Measures to reduce greenhouse gases and ensure energy security have pushed countries to develop new solutions in energy sector. While some countries increase investments in renewable energy, others try to address the issue with long-term solutions. A recent report in Associated Press talks of an innovative solution in this area.
The utility company Vattenfall is building a giant “thermos” tower. This tower in Berlin with a height of 45 meters can hold up to 56 million liters of hot water. The new facility, which costs $52 million, will hold water brought to almost boiling temperature using electricity from solar and wind power plants across Germany.
The vast, insulated tank can keep water hot for up to 13 hours, helping to meet much of Berlin's hot water needs during the summer and about 10% of what it requires in the winter months.
The tower in Berlin also contributes to reduction of emissions used to heat water when needed. In other words, this project that utilizes little energy benefits environment and contributes to energy independence.
While district heating systems fueled by coal, gas or waste have been around for more than a century, most of them are not designed to store significant amounts of heat. Moreover, these facilities burn fossil fuel, contributing to the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global warming.
By contrast, the new tower unveiled at Vattenfall's Reuter power station will hold water brought to almost boiling temperature using electricity from solar and wind power plants across Germany. In times when renewable energy exceeds demand, the facility effectively acts as a giant battery, though instead of storing electricity it stores heat.
If this facility is successful, it is possible to develop new insulation systems by using similar thermos technology in the heating of buildings in the future.