Enter sand, man

Enter sand, man

For when the sun doesn’t show and the wind doesn’t blow, sand may just be an option for thermal energy storage.

By Laura Timberlake

The world’s first commercial sand-based thermal energy storage system has been developed to back up a heating network in Finland.

Technology company Polar Night Energy and utility organisation Vatajankoski have joined forces to create the system, which is adjacent to a power plant. Boasting 100kW heating power and
8MWh capacity, it can heat the sand up to 500–600°C through renewable energy.

The system provides low-emission district heating.

Tonnes of sand

The system is based around a large steel container that holds hundreds of tonnes of sand. Vatajankoski uses the system to ready the waste heat recovered from data servers to feed into the district heating network to the town of Kankaanpää.

Polar Night Energy chief technology officer Markku Ylönen says the
construction of the storage followed a logical path.

“This innovation is a part of the smart and green energy transition,” he says. “Heat storages can significantly help to increase intermittent renewables in the electrical grid. At the same time, we can prime the waste heat to usable level to heat a city. This is a logical step towards combustion‑free heat production.”

Heat storages can significantly help to increase intermittent renewables in the electrical grid.

Stable and renewable

Ylönen believes this heat storage method is a more stable renewable energy source.

“Production of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power is highly volatile,” he says. “Our technology provides a way to refine cheap and clean surplus electricity to valuable heat in an affordable way to be used when most needed.”

Like many European countries, Finland has relied in recent times on cheap Russian gas for its heating needs. Yet following the invasion of Ukraine and in the aftermath of Finland’s decision to join NATO, Russia has now halted gas and electricity supplies to the country.

Like to know more?

The BBC has produced a video about the facility.

This article appears in ecolibrium’s August-September 2022 issue

Want to read more?
 

AIRAH MEMBERS

Click here to view our archive of issues and features.

NON-MEMBERS

Become an AIRAH member or subscribe to Ecolibrium.

To be or not to be a Honeybee company

To be or not to be a Honeybee company

Employers that care about the wellbeing of their staff, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders do better in the long run, writes Professor Gayle Avery.

A little more (ventilation) conversation

A little more (ventilation) conversation

Almost everyone who works on HVAC in Australia would be familiar with the AS 1668 series. Right now, AS 1668.2 and AS 1668.4 – which between them cover mechanical and natural ventilation in buildings – are open for public comment.

Tight done right

Tight done right

The owners of a Passivhaus residential development in Melbourne’s inner suburbs have adopted a pragmatic approach to design, ensuring the best possible outcome on a site overshadowed by neighbouring buildings. Sean McGowan reports.A certified Passivhaus designer and...

Staying power

Staying power

One test of an award program’s veracity is how well the decision to bestow plaudits is viewed through the lens of time.

(Very) artificial intelligence (well, maybe) – a practical view 

(Very) artificial intelligence (well, maybe) – a practical view 

Recent professional opinions on the use of AI in real-world building applications have raised some concerns with Alan Obrart, L.AIRAH.  Like me, you’ve probably been reading a considerable amount lately about AI, or artificial intelligence.   The ASHRAE Journal, New...

ARBS

Advertisement