The Anonymous Widower

Companies Have New Take On Old Energy Storage Tech

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on Hackaday.

This is the introductory paragraph.

According to Spectrum, several companies are poised to make a splash storing energy with gravity. That sounds fancy and high tech at first, but is it, really? Sure, we usually think of energy storage as some sort of battery, but there are many energy storage systems that use water falling, for example, which is almost what this new technology is all about. Almost, since instead of water these new systems move around multi-ton blocks.

The article gives a review of Energy Vault, Gravitricity and another company called Gravity Power.

This is the article’s take on Gravity Power.

The scale of the weights is hard to imagine. Another company, Gravity Power, claims they could deliver 400 megawatts for 16 hours using an 8 million metric ton piston. There’s no word on how long it takes to bring that piston back to the charged position after the 16 hours, though. A Boeing 757-200, for example, weighs about 100 tons when loaded with fuel and passengers. So imagine 80,000 giant airplanes melted down. It makes Energy Vault’s 35-ton weights seem much more reasonable.

Looking at the Gravity Power web site, their technology is described on this page, where this is the first paragraph.

The GPM (Gravity Power Module) uses a very large piston that is suspended in a deep, water-filled shaft, with sliding seals to prevent leakage around the piston and a return pipe connecting to a pump-turbine at ground level. The piston is comprised of reinforced rock and in some cases concrete for low cost. The shaft is filled with water once, at the start of operations, but is then sealed and no additional water is required.

This graphic from the page explains the technology.

My worry would be water leakage past the piston.

This does sound like an idea from William Armstrong, who was responsible for many things including the hydraulic accumulator.

The picture shows the hydraulic accumulator at Limehouse in London.

I visited the Limehouse Accumulator during Open House in 2012 and wrote about it in Open House – The Limehouse Hydraulic Accumulator.




January 9, 2021 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , | 1 Comment

Bunhill 2 Energy Centre

I took these pictures as I walked up City Road.

This used to be the site of the short-lived City Road station on the Northern Line. It can’t have been very significant in the 1970s, as C and myself would probably have passed it several times a week and I can’t remember it.

There are more details on this page of the Borough of Islington web site, which is entitled Bunhill Heat Network.

This is said about Phase 2 of the project.

Phase 2 of the Bunhill Heat and Power network involves building a new energy centre at the top of Central Street, connecting the King’s Square Estate to the network and adding capacity to supply a further 1,000 homes.

The core of the new energy centre is a 1MW heat pump that will recycle the otherwise wasted heat from a ventilation shaft on the Northern Line of the London Underground network, and will transfer that heat into the hot water network. During the summer months, the system will be reversed to inject cool air into the tube tunnels.


  1. A 1MW heat pump can supply enough hot water heat upwards of a thousand homes.
  2. Could you heat your house for an average of 1kW?
  3. The King’s Square Estate is being refurbished and is hundreds of homes.
  4. The heat pump can also be used to cool the Northern Line in the summer.

I shall look forward to seeing over Bunhill 2 Energy Centre, when and if, it is opened to the public, as the first centre  was during Open House 2013. I described that visit in The Bunhill Energy Centre.

December 6, 2018 Posted by | World | , , , | 4 Comments

Old Ford Water Recycling Plant

This plant just off the Greenway takes raw sewage from the Northern Outfall Sewer and converts it into clear water for non-potable purposes on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

I visited it during Open House 2016.

We need more plants like this, to make better use of the water we use.

October 30, 2016 Posted by | Sport, World | , , , | 1 Comment

An Unusual Office Property

I went to see this property at Highams Park, as it was featured in Open House.

The refurbishment is not complete yet, but it would make a lovely small office for a professional, who needed a lot of light. In fact the developers will be using it themselves as part of a favourable deal with Network Rail, that would appear to ensure that the signal box gets sympathetically restored.

Obviously, you’d have to like trains.

There’s more on the signal box and its history on the Highams Park Forum.

One point to note in the pictures is the subway under the tracks, shown in the picture with the train approaching. Was this subway dug under the tracks to stop idiots crossing when it wasn’t safe? And was it dug without disrupting the train service?

September 21, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

More Assembled Concrete At Custom House Station

Every time I go to have a look at the new Custom House Station for Crossrail, there is a lot of evidence of progress.

If they do organise a site visit in Open House, this could be one to view.

April 24, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

The Success Of Open House

Open House is an undoubted success, but is it both big and well-organised enough?  There was a report of excessive crowds at Battersea Power station and as the queues at Canary Wharf station showed, the demand is very large.

The organisers need to rethink how Open House is organised.

Two of the places this year, that I visited were reasonably local and well-organised without queues.  But obviously that can’t be said for the big set piece openings like Canary Wharf station.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Is This Enough Clocks?

The number of clocks here, showing the time around the world could be considered excessive.

Is This Enough Clocks?

Is This Enough Clocks?

But I think it’s a good display.

I took this picture from a 277 bus, which was easiest way to get back from Canary Wharf, as being Open House weekend, there was engineering works on the DLR and the Northern line.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | Leave a comment

Inside Canary Wharf Crossrail Station

This was one of the must-see events in Open House.

The areas we saw were the bottom levels of Canary Wharf station where trains and passengers go.  On the top of these floors is a large retail mall.

This is the future, where stations are more than just means to access the trains. The new Birmingham New Street station has another large retail mall on top and the new Crossrail station at Woolwich, is underneath masses of flats, as is my local station of Dalston Junction. Land is expensive, but digging down or building in the sky only increases its value and hopefully gives benefits to all of us.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | Transport, World | , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Bunhill Energy Centre

I went to the Bunhill Energy Centre as it was one of sites in Open House.

This centre provides enough heat and electricity for 700 homes.

We shall be seeing a lot more developments like this. I’ve always felt that small versions of the same system, using the same principles of a gas powered engine driving a generator, could be used to power and heat larger houses and small industrial premises. In fact Tomorrow’s World showed such a system based on a Fiat car engine in the 1980s.

We are just too conservative about how we generate electricity and heat.

Strangely, I met someone here, who was just a couple of years ahead of me at Minchenden.

September 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 7 Comments

The Hydraulic Accumulator Tower From The DLR

I took these pictures of the Hydraulic Accumulator Tower yesterday to compliment those I took from the ground at Open House.

I was on the eastbound platform at Limehouse station, except for the close-up, where I was in the front of a train.

One of the problems with the DLR these days, is that it is too popular with site-seers and sometimes getting the front seats to take pictures can be almost impossible.

October 3, 2012 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | 1 Comment