Ask Hackaday: How Can You Store Energy At Home?

Amidst the discussions about grid-level energy storage solutions, it is often easy to forget that energy storage can be done on the level of a single house or building as well. The advantages here are that no grid management is needed, with the storage (electrical, thermal, etc.) absorbing the energy as it becomes available, and discharging it when requested. This simplifies the scale of the problem and thus the associated costs significantly.

Perhaps the most common examples of such systems are solar thermal collectors with an associated hot water storage tank, and of course batteries. More recently, the idea of using a battery electric vehicle (BEV, ‘electric car’) as part of a home storage solution is also gaining traction, especially for emergencies where the grid connection has failed due to a storm or similar emergencies. But all-in-all, we don’t see many options for home-level energy storage.

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Ask Hackaday: Is It Time For Waste Heat And Cold Area Heating To Shine?

It’s difficult to escape the topic of energy supply at the moment, with the geopolitical situation surrounding the invasion of Ukraine leaving the natural gas supply to an entire continent in jeopardy. Fortunately we’re watching the green shoots of an early spring here in the Northern hemisphere so the worst of the winter weather is behind us, but industrial customers can take no such solace from the season and will have to weather whatever price hikes are to come. Every alternative idea for energy supply is on the table, and with the parallel imperative of decarbonising the economy this goes beyond the short term into a future without so much need to rely on gas.

The Future is Cloudy

A district heating plant in Vienna, Austria.
A district heating plant in Vienna, Austria. Joadl, CC BY-SA 3.0 AT

A collaboration between a Finnish district heating network and Microsoft caught our eye because the location of a new data centre for the tech giant was chosen specifically to supply waste heat to the network, rather than releasing it to the environment. It’s not uncommon at all for European cities to use district heating networks but they are normally supplied by waste incinerators, boilers, or combined heat and power stations. The use of data centre waste heat is a novelty, as is in particular the siting of the data centre being dictated by the network.
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