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Repurposing Decommissioned industrial \Gasholder Sites as Thermal Battery Sites in Cities

Chapter 1: Repurposing decommissioned sites for renewable energy storage

Leveraging Existing Infrastructure in Cities with Restrictive Planning Permission: As the world continues its transition towards renewable energy sources, the need for efficient energy storage solutions becomes increasingly crucial. Repurposing decommissioned manufacturing sites in inner cities presents a unique opportunity to address both the challenges of urban revitalization and renewable energy storage. This blog post explores the potential benefits, challenges, and references associated with transforming these sites into renewable energy storage facilities.

Benefits of Repurposing Manufacturing Sites:

1.            Location Advantage: Inner cities often have limited available land for large-scale renewable energy projects. Repurposing existing manufacturing sites eliminates the need for extensive land acquisition, reducing costs and environmental impact.

2.            Infrastructure: Many manufacturing sites possess robust infrastructure, including electrical grids, water supplies, and transportation networks. Leveraging this existing infrastructure accelerates the development and deployment of renewable energy storage facilities.

3.            Job Creation and Economic Growth: Repurposing manufacturing sites can spur job creation and economic growth, providing employment opportunities for local communities while attracting investment and promoting sustainable development.

Challenges to Address:

1.            Remediation: Decommissioned manufacturing sites may have legacy pollution or environmental contamination. Thorough environmental assessments and remediation efforts are necessary to ensure the safety and sustainability of the new renewable energy storage facilities.

2.            Grid Integration: Integrating large-scale energy storage facilities into the existing electrical grid requires careful planning and coordination with local utilities. Upgrades and reinforcements to the grid infrastructure may be necessary to support the increased energy capacity.

3.            Community Engagement: Engaging with local communities, stakeholders, and city officials is essential for successful project implementation. Open dialogue, transparency, and addressing concerns regarding noise, visual impact, and other potential drawbacks are crucial to gain public support.

Chapter 2: Understanding Gasholders: The Potential of Decommissioned Gasholder Sites as Thermal Battery Sites.

Definition and Function of Gasholders for Gas Storage: A gas holder or gasholder, also known as a gasometer, is a large container in which natural gas or town gas (coal gas or formerly also water gas) is stored near atmospheric pressure at ambient temperatures. The volume of the container follows the quantity of stored gas, with pressure coming from the weight of a movable cap. Typical volumes for large gas holders are about 50,000 cubic metres (1,800,000 cu ft), with 60-metre (200 ft) diameter structures.

Transition from Gas Storage to Balancing Purposes: Quite a number have been decommissioned but these sites may be repurposed to use as batteries for renewable energy as the have some infrastructure and right to way to supply energy. Gas holders now tend to be used for balancing purposes to ensure that gas pipes can be operated within a safe range of pressures, rather than for actually storing gas for later use.

These sites are located in Europe especially the UK. The advantage is that these sites are located in cites or close to cites and provide opportunities.

Chapter 3: Technologies for Thermal Energy Storage for inner-city deployment:

Some of the technologies and solution being explored are as follows:

  • Sand-based High-Temperature Heat Storage by Polar Night Energy and Vatajankoski: Finnish startup Polar Night Energy and local Finnish utility Vatajankoski have together built the world’s first commercial sand-based, high-temperature heat storage system that can be powered by solar and wind.
  • Rondo Energy’s Heat Battery (RHB) as a Zero-Emissions Alternative: Rondo energy The Rondo Heat Battery (RHB) is a drop-in replacement for fossil-fired boilers.
  • Brenmiller Energy’s bGen Unit for Capturing and Storing Thermal Energy: Brenmiller Energy The bGen unit is charged from different renewable sources: electrical, such as PV, wind, or grid at off-peak; Thermal sources such as biomass, flue-gas, heat recovery, or any combination of these inputs. This energy is captured using electrical heaters and gas piping’s which runs through the storage modules and transfer its heat to the storage media at high temperature of up to 750°c.

A YouTube video called “How A Brick & Rock Battery Is Changing Energy Storage” by Matt Ferrell intersects with this idea:

There would be a lot of hit and miss projects i.e. Pilot, and proof of concept,  but the framework for this should be explored. See the references below for further study. The issue is that they are not focussed on inner city deployment but this is why the creative deployment should be explored.

Conclusion: The repurposing of decommissioned gasholder sites as thermal battery sites offers an excellent opportunity to support renewable energy storage in cities, even in areas with restrictive planning permission. Innovative technologies such as sand-based heat storage, Rondo Heat Battery, and bGen units showcase the potential of these sites in facilitating efficient thermal energy storage. The establishment of the world’s first thermal energy storage gigafactory highlights the increasing significance of this field. Additionally, alternative solutions like vertical well pumped-storage hydro and the repurposing of industrial sites provide further options for sustainable electricity generation and storage.

Second thoughts:

Exploring the use of desert sand as a thermal energy storage medium opens up possibilities for addressing coastal desertification when coupled with desalination, and utilizing the high ambient temperature of desert sand for storage. By embracing these advancements and repurposing existing infrastructure, we can pave the way for a greener and more sustainable future. A Pilot project examining this are :  .One of the issues is what to do with the heavy brine discharge see the  quick post I created

References and Links:

To delve deeper into the topic and explore successful case studies and initiatives related to repurposing manufacturing sites for renewable energy storage, the following references and links are recommended:

  1. “Repurposing Industrial Sites for Renewable Energy Storage: A Comprehensive Guide” – This guide provides insights and best practices for repurposing industrial sites, including manufacturing facilities, for energy storage projects. [Link:]
  2. “Revitalizing Inner Cities through Renewable Energy Storage” – A case study showcasing how a decommissioned manufacturing site in an inner city was transformed into a renewable energy storage facility, benefiting the local community and contributing to sustainable development. [Link:]
  3. “Community Engagement Strategies for Renewable Energy Projects” – This resource outlines effective community engagement strategies and provides insights on addressing potential concerns and garnering support for renewable energy storage projects. [Link:]
  4. “Grid Integration and Energy Storage: Challenges and Solutions” – A report exploring the technical aspects of integrating large-scale energy storage facilities into existing grids, addressing challenges and proposing solutions for seamless integration. [Link:]
  5. Introduction to the World’s First Thermal Energy Storage Gigafactory : Freethink World’s first thermal energy storage “gigafactory” opens:
  6. Partners Enel X and Magaldi Group have begun construction in Salerno, Italy, on a 13MWh thermal energy storage (TES) plant based on a patented technology.

Alternative Solutions for Renewable Energy Storage: Exploring the Potential of “Vertical Well” Pumped-Storage Hydro

  1. Repurposing Decommissioned Industrial Sites like Steel Works or Coal Mines: an alternative might be using decommissioned sites such as steel works or coal mines
  2. There are other  solutions that can be sited  to create direct  electricity in the form of “Vertical well” Pumped-Storage Hydro

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