Finnish company creates storage for electricity using sand

The special sand storage unit

The special sand storage unit Credit: Polar Night Energy

FINNISH company creates storage for electricity using sand and believes that given time and investment their patented system could heat a city.

Polar Night Energy and Vatajankoski, an energy utility based in Western Finland, have together constructed a sand-based thermal energy storage which is the world’s first commercial solution to store electricity in the sand as heat to be used in a district heating network.

The storage is placed on Vatajankoski’s power plant area and it provides heat for Vatajankoski’s district heating network in Kankaanpää.

“The construction of the storage went well, especially considering that the solution is completely new.

“We managed to get everything in order despite some challenges and a short delay. Now the sand is already hot”, said Polar Night Energy’s Co-Founder and CTO Markku Ylönen.

“We have already learnt that our system has even more potential than we initially calculated. It’s been a positive surprise” 

The actual heat storage is contained in a four metre wide and seven metre high steel container that has an automated heat storage system and a hundred tons of sand inside.

As a material, sand is durable and inexpensive and can store a lot of heat in a small volume at a temperature of about 500–600 degrees Celsius and the heat storage has 100 kW of heating power and 8 MWh of energy capacity.

Wind and solar power depend upon the elements but according to Markku Ylönen this option is available 24 hours a day once the waste heat has been transferred to the sand.

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