Thursday, January 8, 2009

Storage of Solar PV electricity in potential energy of structure

This idea came to me the other day when thinking about the inherent problems of solar PV electricity; namely, its only there when the sun is out.

I had read about storing solar energy by pumping water up into higher reservoirs. To apply this same concept in an urban setting, I first thought about putting reservoirs on buildings, but then decided that it would require too much supporting structure. Instead, utilizing the mass of the building itself struck me as an alternative.

In this concept, a series of racks and pinions are used in conjunction with electric motors to actually raise the structure using excess electricity from solar PV. Then, to meet evening demands, the structure is slowly lowered, and the energy is harnessed. I imagine that if a system like this were perfected, then it would have an acceptably high efficiency rate. Also, a row of gently oscillating buildings would be aesthetically pleasing, like the motion of tides.

Some difficulties will need to be overcome. A safety mechanism would need to be created in case the motor fails such that the building does not suddenly fall some meters. Also, infrastructure such as plumbing, electricity, and entrance ways would have to be flexible.

Are there any reactions to this concept?