Elevator Energy Storage Systems

Elevator Energy Storage Systems

Thomas Fong (The New School, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8003-4.ch005


Elevator energy storage systems provide reliable energy storage using the gravitational potential energy of elevators. The chapter provides evidence that harnessing the gravity of existing infrastructure is economically, environmentally, and socially more responsible than its competitors (large scale hydraulic and lithium battery storage). EESS proposes a heterodox approach to individuals' relationships with power systems. By the use of existing capital to provide power storage, the capitalist cycle, which constructs new capital for the sake of monetary growth, is disrupted. The next generation of energy storage will look to re-constrain its parameters of acceptability on the grounds of environmental and social impact rather than efficiency and megawatt output.
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As the world fossil fuel reserves rapidly deplete within the coming decades, the demand for alternative renewable energy solutions becomes latent. Renewables such as wind solar and hydro have proven to be the future of the grid, however they lack the ability to hold their charge independently. Energy storage is the integral piece to creating a reliable grid. Renewables have the tendencies of being peaking during hours that do not consider with peak demand hours. Power Storage provides the service of smoothing peaks and valleys of power demand on the grid. The most efficient energy storage methods are currently Lithium Ion battery storage and Large Scale pumped hydro which both lead to negative environmental externalities (Saeidnia & Abdollahi, 2013). The first wave of energy storage systems proved that storage was necessary to provide renewable power at all hours. The shortcoming of the first generation of energy storage is rooted in a capitalist mindset that new infrastructure must be built for it to succeed. Battery storage is portrayed as a ’Green’ alternative, yet it still perpetuates the cycle of mining for resources of a limited supply, therefore, continuing the global north’s hegemonic control of the global south. Pumped hydro Storage can be seen as process, which continues the pattern of western cultures destroying natural habitat for the benefit of humans in the same light. The processes of diverting water higher and lower in elevation does not just place and displace water in areas, which it would usually be, but also causes erosion in the surrounding localities. If humanity went back to the drawing board to create an ideal energy storage solution, it would run on infinitely renewable energy source, require minimal new capital, and have no effect on the environment.

Elevator Energy Storage System’s will redefine how energy is stored in existing capital. EESS uses the power of gravity, which will never run out and has zero bi-production. The design of the EESS only requires the existing capital of an elevator so the only additional capital needed is a motor, a gearbox and some additional structural support. Solar lifts the mass of the elevator during its peak production hours (daytime), storing it as potential energy. At night when energy is at the highest demand, energy is released by dropping the weight of the elevator, which rotates the motor. As gravity pulls the weight downwards, the motor becomes a generator, which produces electrical energy.

The storage system proposed would be the first of a majority of existing capital without having any negative effects on the surrounding environment. In contrary EESS’s will save energy as they require one less elevator to be in use. These elevator system revolution could effectively nudge people to share elevators and in turn increase the utility of each elevator ride.

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