Battery storage and ‘heat dumps’

For a stand-alone battery system to work effectively, all the different elements of the whole installation.

For a stand-alone battery system to work effectively, all the different elements of the whole installation – turbine, generator, battery sets, cabling, electronic controls – need to be taken into account at the same time. Decisions about one element will affect decision about the others, and a wrong choice can lead to a disappointingly low performance. Such stand-alone systems need small loads during start-up (or they will stall) and extra ‘dump’ loads for surplus electricity (or the turbine may run out of control). Many stand-alone systems combine wind and solar energy collectors, so that energy can be produced in most weather conditions (overcast and windy, or sunny and still).

An alternative to using chemical batteries is to provide a ‘heat dump’ for when the electricity output exceeds the demand. This could be a simple hot water tank with an immersion heater running off the surplus energy from the turbine. The advantages of not having to deal with batteries needs to be weighed up against the fact that a tank of hot water is not a very versatile store of energy. Heat has far fewer uses than electricity.

Where the electricity needs to be used on the move, batteries make great sense. Electric vehicles run on batteries charged by renewable electricity have a lower environmental impact than if they were charged from the mains.                     

Any battery system needs to be designed by an engineer and the user(s) will need to understand the principles of how it works and be prepared to keep an eye on it. It is not a ‘fit and forget’ technology.

[picture of small turbine with electric vehicle]