I think my next tech geek thing I’m going to nerd out on (since I feel I’ve exhausted most of the home automation stuff) is renewable energy stuff. A lot of this interest goes to a family cabin that is up in the mountains and doesn’t have any utilities. Above that though, as a breather of air in the SL Valley I am ready for us to be rid of fossil fuels.
Right now though I am a true beginner, just learning. A number of years ago I said to my son that we have all the renewable and clean energy the entire world population needs many times over and we’ve even gotten pretty good at capturing - the problem is storing it. The person/people who solves the battery problem will save the world from pollution and the energy crisis. I was trying to help him pick a career that would save the world.
We’ve made a lot of amazing progress in chemical batteries, but there remains plenty of issues from pollution after, to pollution in producing them, to the slowness of charging them and the limited life.
For our cabin we have a small spring on the property that goes into a stream. I did the calculations to discover that we have both enough water flow and the elevation that I could in theory power a mini hydroelectric plant that SHOULD provide enough power for the house to do most things. So, that may be a solution to look into. Of course the next consideration is wind and solar power. But the power storage remains the same.
Recently I was looking at a grandfather clock and its weights that power the clock and wondered about using gravity for energy. Turns out they’ve been doing this for years, using surplus power to pump water in hydroelectric dams back up to power. I also just saw an article about a wind turbine farm using excess power to raise basically train cars up a track filled with rocks and then using gravity to generate energy. So, gravity is a pretty cool and clean way to store energy. The problem of course is the space and the energy lost as you are generating the lift needed.
But with enough renewables, who would care, and this type of solution would be pollution free and last for decades. Basically you could have free power and the power storage without all of the trouble and problems of chemical batteries.
So, you physicists and engineers out there - why couldn’t I either build a tower or dig a hole to drop the weights down and do something like this? I’m wondering how much weight would be needed to store enough energy to power a house for, let’s say two days.
Something to dig into - but the reason I bring that up here is one NICE thing we have in Utah is plenty of elevation to do something like the if it was viable. We have the second most days of sunshine in the nation, plenty of windy canyons, and lots of hills and mountains. Big swaths of central Utah outside of Milford right now are turbines and solar panels.
But what if you could figure out an affordable way to outfit a home with its own power unit - solar and wind, surplus power goes into a gravity battery - you’d be completely green and self-sustaining. AND if you decided to dig a hole instead of a tower, you might even be able to harness geothermal energy to heat and cool your home - lessening your energy draw.
Any of you guys spent time on solar panels or done a self-install?