Finland offers us the solution to ensure a continuous energy supply throughout the year. A Finnish company, Polar Night Energy, developed a huge thermal sand battery.
The sand stores heat at about 500°C, which can then be used to heat homes in winter when energy is more expensive.
When energy prices are higher or when renewable energy generation is not possible, as, in the long Nordic winter, the battery can discharge hot air, which is used to heat water for home heating.
Efficiency decreases significantly when this heat is used to generate electricity again, but since heat is one of the fundamental energy needs, the solution has very high applicability.
Europe is concerned about securing the energy supply
Many countries, such as Germany, Poland, Finland, Sweden, and Norway, among others, are seeking alternatives to have a warm winter and not suffer from the freezing temperatures or high energy costs that suffocate their citizens’ pockets.
There is no sustainable future if we do not leave fossil fuels behind to use alternative energy sources effectively.
Solar and wind energy are at the forefront and are a source of hope for change, although there are certain obstacles, today using solar panels at the commercial and domestic levels is very common.
All kinds of solutions have been considered to solve this problem, but today area batteries are an innovative solution that can store heat and produce electricity at the same time.
While lithium batteries are a great alternative, there is not enough lithium to supply the world’s demand in less than 50 years, so it will be good to consider other storage options, even during this “transition” period.
Finland is a challenge for solar energy use
In Finland, there have been 50 hours of total sunshine this year, and there have been 18 hours of sunshine in Jyväskylä (about 270km north of Helsinki).
During their studies in engineering, three young people in Finland began thinking about how to build a self-sufficient house.
As they developed ideas, they discovered that sand, which can store heat, could warm up to 600 °C and store it for many months if it was stored in an insulated container.
By storing sand, solar energy can be used to generate heat in places with plenty of sunshine in summer and little in winter. Additionally, wind electricity could also be used to heat the mega-sand tanks.
As in conventional energy storage systems, when excess energy is generated through renewable sources, it is directed into the sand battery.
The hot air is recirculated into the sand, which loses heat very slowly and is a very effective heat storage material.
The battery can release high-temperature air when energy prices rise in order to heat water in the district heating system, which then heats homes, offices, and even the local swimming pool.
Storing green energy in the form of heat can also be an opportunity for the industrial sector, where the heat used in the production of different elements, from food to medication.
Finland is the first country with an operational system that has been working. This event is setting a new path on how to go into green energies.
What is hot sand used for?
Once the sand is hot, the heat is used to heat water, with a system that must be distributed in the places where the heat will be needed: in this way, the summer heat is used to heat a house or a boiler in winter or at any time of the year any type of boiler.
In practice, it also has industrial uses and, in cities that already has a centralized heat distribution system, it is enough to make a large sand reservoir.
There are really few places in the world that have initiated the use of renewable energies and fortunately solar energy has proven to be useful, although its use is not yet adopted globally, the efforts will gradually lead to a change of system, a clean energy that does not harm the environment, which can be very economical and that you can produce and store for when you need.