12 July 2022

After living through one of the hottest weeks on records, we’re all on high alert to the dangers of climate change. It was the first time that temperatures in the UK exceeded 40°C. The fires across England looked more reminiscent of California wildfires than anything we would expect to see in the UK.

These skyrocketing temperatures are the latest consequence of global warming. If we don’t transition to renewable energy, these eyewatering temperatures will become part of our everyday lives.

Just before these record temperatures were recorded, a ground of Finnish researchers announced the installation of their “sand battery”. The renewed focus on renewable energies has us all interested in the potential of sand batteries. This research shows that the potential of green energy is truly limitless.

As we seek to tackle carbon emissions by transitioning to clean energy, could sand batteries help us achieve net zero? We’re exploring this latest advancement in the world of renewable energies.

Meet Sand Batteries

Researchers in Finland made headlines after installing the first fully functioning ‘sand battery’. Its developers say that it can store clean energy for months continuously, helping to solve one of the biggest problems facing renewable energy.

Sand batteries operate by using low-grade sand that stores heat at roughly 500C °. Storing energy long-term means that energy produced during low-consumption periods – such as the summer – can be utilised at times when energy consumption is at its peak, such as winter.

Finland is an ideal location for such research. The country relies heavily on gas imports from Russia and deals with long and cold winter seasons. It’s led to concerns about the viability of renewable energies, particularly during peak periods.

This ‘sand battery’ has shown the potential to be the solution to Finland’s problem. It operates with a grey silo that contains roughly 100 tonnes of builder’s sand that are piled high inside the container.

This rough sand is a way of keeping the storage system cost-effective. It works by warming up the low-cost electricity to 500C ° using resistive heating. Sand works as an effective solution as it can store heat with only minimal losses. The Finnish developers believe it could store green energy for several months.

Battery Storage for Clean Energy

Intermittency is one of the biggest questions facing renewable energy. Can large-scale batteries, such as sand batteries, help balance energy storage with demand? One of the biggest criticisms that renewable energy faces is the supposedly seasonal nature of its functionality.

The problem that faces traditional battery storage is that it runs on lithium batteries. These batteries are expensive and can only maintain a limited amount of energy. The team of Finnish engineers in Kankaanpää mean that their sand battery offers a low-impact and low-cost solution to lithium battery storage.

The Finnish research team isn’t the first to explore the potential of sand as a viable battery for green power. The US National Renewable Energy Laboratory is currently overseeing research in this field, but the Finnish team are the first to install a working system in a commercial property.

Can sand batteries provide the solution to lithium batteries? There’s no denying that it’s a low-cost solution that will relieve pressure on lithium batteries, which are already rising in price. Sand batteries also out-perform lithium batteries as they’re better able to handle sudden energy surges to maximise efficiency.

The Potential of Renewable Energy

Sand batteries prove the potential of renewable energy to create a more sustainable future with a solution to one of its most pressing problems - storage. It also shows the potential of unused land to turbocharge the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

Electricity grids will only be able to transition to renewable energy if they have storage systems that can maintain balance in the network. Storms can lead to excess energy production for wind turbines, while the same can happen to solar panels during summer.

Batteries and storage systems are crucial for regions that experience seasonal weather, including the UK and most of Europe. An effective storage system, such as sand batteries, will allow engineers to maintain balance in the electricity grid by absorbing surges when they occur and releasing excess energy when demand is at its peak.

Why We Need to Invest in Renewable Energy

Transitioning to renewable energy is our last defence against climate change. We’re already living with the impact of climate change; rising temperatures, dangerous weather events, and food insecurity. The 40°C temperatures that we’ve just experienced are proof of the growing threat of climate change.

The only way we can “preserve a liveable planet”, according to the United Nations, is to reduce the increase in global temperatures to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Achieving net-zero is the only way to save our planet – that means transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy.

What makes renewable energy unique is that it’s a zero-carbon solution. We’re leading the way in promoting the potential of renewable energy. There’s no time to waste. If we want to achieve net zero by 2050, we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030. Renewable energy will be vital to this.

We’ve all experienced the knock-on effects of global warming. It affects every aspect of our lives – from rising energy costs to adverse weather conditions. The public overwhelming support renewable energy as a solution to the cost-of-living crisis and climate change.

Leasing Land for Renewable Energy + Passive Income

Will sand batteries make their way to the UK? It’s too early to make the call just yet. One thing we know for sure is that sand batteries will only be useful once we have the renewable energy infrastructure in place.

At Green Switch Energy, we lease unused land from farmers and landowners to build renewable energy infrastructure. We specialise in wind energy, solar energy, and battery storage. Our organisation exists to lower the barriers to expanding renewable energy capacity and reducing energy costs.

Help us build an independent energy system that will enable the UK to meet its net-zero target by joining Green Switch Energy today. Explore the potential of leasing your land for renewable energy projects by contacting our team at info@gscapital.uk or using our contact form here.