Added 11 Jun 2024 by Gem Ellithorn

Traditionally we use Hydroelectric energy storage called “Pumped Storage” to store electricity created by other generation methods, these days this energy is often produced by solar and wind. Pumped Storage works by having two reservoirs one elevated above the other. When there is excess electricity being produced, this excess is used to pump water from the bottom to the top reservoir by storing the water at a higher elevation the energy is stored due to gravity. The higher the water in the upper reservoir, the more potential energy it has. When there's a high demand for electricity the water is released from the upper reservoir back down to the lower reservoir through huge pipes to turbines, which spin due to the force of the water, generating electricity that feeds back into the grid. Pumped storage hydroelectricity is a reliable way to store excess energy and meet peak electricity demands.

Pumped Hydro Storage
Pumped Hydro Storage infographic

Waterless hydropower uses the same principal but with different liquids and could play a key role by reducing the physical size of pumped storage facilities. Unlike its traditional equivalent, waterless versions of hydro utilise denser fluids, like the R-19 fluid which is being developed by RheEnergise. These denser fluids provide a more compact and powerful storage solution in terms of energy potential per litre of fluid.

Think of it like this: You can store the same amount of energy with a much smaller volume of denser fluid compared to the less dense option of water.

The Role of R-19 in Waterless Hydropower

RheEnergise's waterless hydropower technology uses a dense fluid they patented as
R-19, this is known to be a crucial element in enabling the system's reduced storage footprint.

This shift from water to denser fluids offers significant advantages, such as removing the need for large dams, and this significantly reduces the carbon footprint required for construction of the storage, allowing for facilities closer to the scale of Olympic swimming pools.

On top of that waterless hydro systems can potentially be built in more diverse locations, including disused mines or even underground facilities. This opens doors for a greater number of locations compared to traditional pumped-storage hydroelectricity which as you now know needs specific locations of elevated ground to work properly all of this could mean a more flexible approach to energy storage.

By replacing water with denser fluids and enabling more compact storage facilities, this presents a fresh approach to pumped storage technology. As this technology develops, it has the potential to become more adaptable in clean energy storage.

Waterless hydro is a new concept, with RheEnergise rolling out their first-of-its-kind demonstrator in the mining hills near Plymouth. There is not a lot of information about this technology so far, especially details about efficiency, and environmental impact but we imagine the more the technology develops the more we can learn.

RheEnergise claims waterless hydro boasts a significant cost advantage over large-scale lithium-ion batteries. Furthermore, unlike batteries prone to degradation and leakage, this mechanical storage system offers superior longevity. Reserves can be maintained for long periods making them highly adaptable to various local energy demands.

Are you intrigued by waterless hydropower? Here's a link to RheEnergise's website to learn more about their R-19 fluid and ongoing developments.