Solutions for energy storage to be released when needed and possible ways to achieve it.

FREMONT, CA: A compressed air energy storage system draws in air, generating a high-pressure system in a series of vast underground chambers. When the wind speeds slow or power demand surges, the pressurized air, typically mixed with a bit of natural gas, is released to power turbines or generators.

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity is usually built to store excess power from the grid. Water is permitted to flow from the upper reservoir down to a lower reservoir when demand surges. The water moves through turbines as it flows to a lower elevation, producing electricity.

Advanced Rail Energy Storage, developed by a California start-up, is a device that reserves electricity using rail cars. The uncommon device utilizes excess grid energy to power axle-drive motors on rail cars, driving mass uphill and toward gravity to a storage yard. The rail cars travel back downhill to draw energy from the grid.

Flywheel energy storage systems store grid energy in the form of spinning wheels by transforming electricity into kinetic energy. To avoid a loss of energy, the wheels are held in a frictionless vacuum by a magnetic field and when power is required, the spinning can be slowed down in a way that produces electricity. Lithium batteries were not designed for industrial use and three significant obstacles are faced by the widespread, grid-based adoption of lithium battery storage: cost; the fact that they can be a safety hazard; and their limited lifetime.

Liquid Air Energy Storage uses excess grid electricity, or LAES, to cool ambient air to the point that it becomes a liquid. The liquid air is transformed back to gas by exposure to ambient air or waste heat to remove energy from the device. It is then used to fuel turbines with this expanding gas.

Pumped Heat Electrical Storage stores electricity by using it to drive a heat pump that transfers heat from a "cold store" to a hot store. The heat pump is flipped, removed from the hot store, and put into the cold store to recover the energy. This produces mechanical work that drives a generator.

Redox flow batteries use chemical reduction and oxidation reactions to store excess grid energy in liquid electrolyte solutions. The biggest advantage of redox batteries is to have their versatility over lithium-ion and other reliable state batteries.

Electricity stores a superconducting magnetic energy storage device not as chemical, kinetic, or potential energy, but as a magnetic field. The field is formed in a superconducting coil by the current flow that has been cooled to below a critical temperature point. 

Energy stored as methane could easily be piped or shipped using the existing natural gas infrastructure. As a gas that can then be burned to power turbines, methane essentially serves as an energy storage medium in this scenario.

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