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(AutoEvolution)   Remember when Fark mocked a proposed car that ran on compressed air? The Chinese have scaled that proposal up. A lot   (autoevolution.com) divider line
    More: Interesting, Renewable energy, Wind power, Motor Development International, Energy, Energy storage, Electric car, Tata Motors, air energy storage facility  
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1720 clicks; posted to STEM » on 24 Oct 2021 at 3:38 PM (6 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2021-10-24 11:26:23 AM  
That's a interesting low tech energy storage solution.
 
2021-10-24 11:34:00 AM  
TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?
 
2021-10-24 11:35:23 AM  
Sounds inefficient
 
2021-10-24 11:38:31 AM  
That's brilliant! It's well-known that air compressed itself with no energy expended.
 
2021-10-24 11:39:36 AM  
What are they doing to keep the storage tanks from corroding from condensation that occurs in the tanks? If the plan is to let it run until it breaks then I for one am glad to be on the opposite side of the planet.
 
2021-10-24 11:51:14 AM  
Neat on the other hand I remember the images of exploded paintball airtanks
 
TWX
2021-10-24 12:00:54 PM  

fragMasterFlash: What are they doing to keep the storage tanks from corroding from condensation that occurs in the tanks? If the plan is to let it run until it breaks then I for one am glad to be on the opposite side of the planet.


I have an entirely passively-operated moisture removal system on my 80 gallon air compressor.

https://www.gosuburban.com/our-brands​/​tsunami-compressed-air-solutions/produ​cts/drains/moisture-minder-pneumatic-d​rain-valve

The device works with a shuttle-valve connected between the pressure vessel and the leader-line between the pump and the checkvalve at the tank inlet.  The shuttle-valve slides into one position when the high-pressure leader line exceeds the pressure of the tank, and then slides into the other position when the leader-line depressurizes after the pump stops.  This causes liquid condensed in the bottom of the tank at the drain valve to push out of the tank and into this contraption, where it then vents as the pump shuts off and the line depressurizes.

No electricity at all.  It did require me to run extra copper lines and to ensure that there was sufficient clearance under my tank so that this device could be installed, but it has been working for several years without problems.

I also installed an old automotive HVAC condenser out of a Dodge Dakota to cool the hot compressed air from the pump before it leaves the coil for an intermediate tank, so most of the moisture condenses into that auxiliary tank, not the main tank.  The aux tank is basically sacrificial, if it dies I'll install a new one.  I can drain the aux tank separately from the main tank and if I felt like it I could put another Moisture Minder on the aux tank.  I haven't bothered, I just go open the valve from time to time and it seems to be good enough.
 
TWX
2021-10-24 12:02:19 PM  

alechemist: Neat on the other hand I remember the images of exploded paintball airtanks


Every energy storage solution that stores enough to be useful has the potential to cause a significant amount of damage if that energy is released in a way other than intended.  You're simply accustomed to hearing about the odd car fire.
 
2021-10-24 12:51:25 PM  
10 years from now:

*filling up the tank* "10¢ per cubic inch?? Big Air has really put the screws to us!"
 
2021-10-24 12:57:14 PM  
Fark user imageView Full Size

It's been done
 
2021-10-24 2:09:46 PM  
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-10-24 3:44:51 PM  
images-na.ssl-images-amazon.comView Full Size
 
2021-10-24 3:50:07 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?


You mean other than the somewhat obvious bit about how 99% of civilization is not near a lake. This is something that can be used literally anywhere on the planet
 
2021-10-24 3:52:56 PM  
CAES has been a thing for a long time. It's one of the cheapest energy storage technologies on a per KWh basis.

That said there are some engineering challenges, the heating/cooling as the gas is compressed/expanded makes for a lot of energy loss on storing and icing on turbine blades when regenerating.
 
2021-10-24 4:06:01 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?


Because it takes an absolute shiatload of water, a really high place, or both. It's still my favorite storage method, but it isn't super easy to make. This is.
 
2021-10-24 4:07:55 PM  

fragMasterFlash: What are they doing to keep the storage tanks from corroding from condensation that occurs in the tanks? If the plan is to let it run until it breaks then I for one am glad to be on the opposite side of the planet.


Natural gas training facilities run on compressed air to simulate natural gas for training situations. Those can be pretty large scale depending on their location. They seem to manage.
 
2021-10-24 4:12:16 PM  

Mr. Eugenides: CAES has been a thing for a long time. It's one of the cheapest energy storage technologies on a per KWh basis.

That said there are some engineering challenges, the heating/cooling as the gas is compressed/expanded makes for a lot of energy loss on storing and icing on turbine blades when regenerating.


Yes. It's less of a problem for bigger systems, but for these tanks I've heard thermal efficiency numbers as low as 50%. If I recall, the cars were something like 20%, which is abysmal. That's about as bad as a hydrogen car. Yuck.
 
2021-10-24 4:42:52 PM  
I mean... did we, though? Mock it, I mean.

Mechanical storage for short-term load balancing of the grid has been a thing forever, though the archetypal example brought up in engineering classes is usually gravity storage, e.g. pumping water up a hill when the draw on the grid is low and using it to run a hydro generator when the load is high, or in really classic examples lifting actual solid weights.

Using excess energy to compress a gas and then running it through a turbine is basically the same thing. I mean, you'll have the usual issues of compression for air specifically in the form of water phase transition, but that's hardly insurmountable.
 
2021-10-24 4:53:15 PM  
The Chinese, eh?

Commence lolleration.

Liquid Air Batteries. Literally energy from thin air. Seriously. Literally!
Youtube tMLu9Dtw9yI
 
2021-10-24 4:56:44 PM  

Cafe Threads: [Fark user image 425x636]


Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-10-24 4:59:38 PM  
The technology seems sound but there does not seem to be any discussion of its economics.

40MW of storage batteries from a dozen or so suppliers can be had for $40 million installed and another million for 20 years maintenance service. All up 41 million over the life of the project. 99% of energy going in comes back out.

How much a huge high pressure system costs is hard to determine. Be very generous and say it only costs $20 million. It is very much a human operated system so assuming 2 people at all times means about 10 full time employees or perhaps $500,000 per year in operating costs. So construction and operation for 20 years adds up to roughly $30 million at least. However, compression is adiabatic so the Carnot limits apply therefor  efficiency (energy out divided by energy in) can not exceed ~60%. That 40MW it stores cost 55-65MW in input. Sure the peak vs off peak pricing may make this profitable but a battery would be 40% more profitable.

At best this tech may be cheaper to install. It is much more expensive to run and vastly less efficient at storing the inputs. Its hard to imagine a scenario where it would make sense. In a grid its just too wasteful. On an isolated island it would work but that staffing cost goes way up.
 
2021-10-24 5:02:43 PM  

Jim_Callahan: I mean... did we, though? Mock it, I mean.


[good explanation of why it scales up deleted].

If we didn't we certainly should have.  There were two proposals I can remember.  One was a French idea that only used compressed air to run cars, that was stupid on its face and worse than hydrogen cars (but cheap.  All the expensive bits don't have to be in the car and can be used constantly.  The bits that drive the car are relatively cheap.  See modern pneumatic tools).

The other one involved using the compression stroke of an ICE engine to compress air into an air bladder and reuse said air pushing the cylinder back down later.  Not quite as silly, but I'd be curious if you can even get the thing to start again after filling the bladder during braking (perhaps a mix of wide open [or top of the BSHP island, anyway] gas burning plus "air push" runs).  The real issue is that the control needed for the valves would fix a lot of ICE issues long before you got around to compressing air for brake regeneration.

But the whole idea needs a really big compressed air tank, with some decent insulation (it's gonna get hot in there, and any loss of said heat is a painful loss of your energy stored).  Much better than in a car.
 
2021-10-24 5:02:44 PM  

edmo: Sounds inefficient


It's not bad actually, though not as good as batteries.  Realistically about 85% to compress and 85% to extract, so about 70%.  The problems are things like thermal issues and humidity.
 
2021-10-24 5:12:54 PM  

aerojockey: edmo: Sounds inefficient

It's not bad actually, though not as good as batteries.  Realistically about 85% to compress and 85% to extract, so about 70%.  The problems are things like thermal issues and humidity.


Batteries are great at what they do, but they'll only last about 4 hours. The liquid air energy profile allows greater, though less efficient, storage of energy at a higher density, lower cost, and longer duration. As it stands, liquid air is a decent bridge between battery and hydro.
 
2021-10-24 5:17:57 PM  

TWX: fragMasterFlash: What are they doing to keep the storage tanks from corroding from condensation that occurs in the tanks? If the plan is to let it run until it breaks then I for one am glad to be on the opposite side of the planet.

I have an entirely passively-operated moisture removal system on my 80 gallon air compressor.

https://www.gosuburban.com/our-brands/​tsunami-compressed-air-solutions/produ​cts/drains/moisture-minder-pneumatic-d​rain-valve

The device works with a shuttle-valve connected between the pressure vessel and the leader-line between the pump and the checkvalve at the tank inlet.  The shuttle-valve slides into one position when the high-pressure leader line exceeds the pressure of the tank, and then slides into the other position when the leader-line depressurizes after the pump stops.  This causes liquid condensed in the bottom of the tank at the drain valve to push out of the tank and into this contraption, where it then vents as the pump shuts off and the line depressurizes.

No electricity at all.  It did require me to run extra copper lines and to ensure that there was sufficient clearance under my tank so that this device could be installed, but it has been working for several years without problems.

I also installed an old automotive HVAC condenser out of a Dodge Dakota to cool the hot compressed air from the pump before it leaves the coil for an intermediate tank, so most of the moisture condenses into that auxiliary tank, not the main tank.  The aux tank is basically sacrificial, if it dies I'll install a new one.  I can drain the aux tank separately from the main tank and if I felt like it I could put another Moisture Minder on the aux tank.  I haven't bothered, I just go open the valve from time to time and it seems to be good enough.


Impressive and elegant solution to the moisture issue.
Mes hommages.
 
2021-10-24 5:21:39 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?


Because there are a finite number of places suitable to build pumped hydro storage. You can put steel pressure vessels anywhere.
 
2021-10-24 5:23:45 PM  

yet_another_wumpus: Jim_Callahan: I mean... did we, though? Mock it, I mean.

[good explanation of why it scales up deleted].

If we didn't we certainly should have.  There were two proposals I can remember.  One was a French idea that only used compressed air to run cars, that was stupid on its face and worse than hydrogen cars (but cheap.  All the expensive bits don't have to be in the car and can be used constantly.  The bits that drive the car are relatively cheap.  See modern pneumatic tools).

The other one involved using the compression stroke of an ICE engine to compress air into an air bladder and reuse said air pushing the cylinder back down later.  Not quite as silly, but I'd be curious if you can even get the thing to start again after filling the bladder during braking (perhaps a mix of wide open [or top of the BSHP island, anyway] gas burning plus "air push" runs).  The real issue is that the control needed for the valves would fix a lot of ICE issues long before you got around to compressing air for brake regeneration.

But the whole idea needs a really big compressed air tank, with some decent insulation (it's gonna get hot in there, and any loss of said heat is a painful loss of your energy stored).  Much better than in a car.


TFA is about grid storage facilities for load balancing, though. The cars in this case would be electric in the traditional solid/liquid battery sense.

I mean, maybe I'm alone in reading TFA, but they're not talking about strapping a container of high pressure gas to an actual moving vehicle, which would obviously be a bad idea but isn't super relevant in this case.

Like, I'm automatically skeptical of China claiming to do anything technological (they never really recovered from literally murdering anyone with a high school equivalent or better education back in the '50s) but this isn't something that's infeasible by any means, and importantly they can just import equipment and have techs assemble it on site.
 
2021-10-24 5:30:22 PM  

yet_another_wumpus: Jim_Callahan: I mean... did we, though? Mock it, I mean.

[good explanation of why it scales up deleted].

If we didn't we certainly should have.  There were two proposals I can remember.  One was a French idea that only used compressed air to run cars, that was stupid on its face and worse than hydrogen cars (but cheap.  All the expensive bits don't have to be in the car and can be used constantly.  The bits that drive the car are relatively cheap.  See modern pneumatic tools).

The other one involved using the compression stroke of an ICE engine to compress air into an air bladder and reuse said air pushing the cylinder back down later.  Not quite as silly, but I'd be curious if you can even get the thing to start again after filling the bladder during braking (perhaps a mix of wide open [or top of the BSHP island, anyway] gas burning plus "air push" runs).  The real issue is that the control needed for the valves would fix a lot of ICE issues long before you got around to compressing air for brake regeneration.

But the whole idea needs a really big compressed air tank, with some decent insulation (it's gonna get hot in there, and any loss of said heat is a painful loss of your energy stored).  Much better than in a car.


You've missed the Tata motors (India) one which made it to Fark maybe 7-10 years ago and was mocked because it had a planned RRP of around $3000USD if I remember rightly. So the expectation was that it would have like 3KM of range, go 10KM/h and somehow explode into a ball of fire if it crashed.

I always like the idea of motors attached to huge spinning stone/lead cylinders as energy storage. Spare energy makes the motor spin, an energy shortage puts resistance on the motor.
 
2021-10-24 5:30:24 PM  

PartTimeBuddha: Batteries are great at what they do, but they'll only last about 4 hours.


What?  No, they'll last as long as you have charge (within reason, they will slowly leak charge).  Did you mean to say 4 months?  I could see that.  If your goal is to store energy in the summer to use in the winter than yes batteries would not be a good choice.

If we're talking about storing energy in the day to use at night, really the only reason not to use batteries for that is the environmental footprint (which is tricky, since this is the problem we trying to solve).  No, compressed air at scales needed to power a city are not going to be cheaper than batteries, especially when you factor in the losses.
 
2021-10-24 5:30:59 PM  

GardenWeasel: That's a interesting low tech energy storage solution.


You could pump water into a tall tank (or from a river to behind a dam) during peak production hours, then recover the energy via water turbine during peak demand.

Those seem safer than huge bottles of compressed air, especially given China's safety record on large-scale projects. I expect a future headline about how one of these tanks ruptured, rocketing the bottle into a nearby village, killing dozens.
 
2021-10-24 5:31:24 PM  
Pic ftfa preview:
Fark user imageView Full Size
that car doesn't look very aerodynamic
 
2021-10-24 5:34:55 PM  

ImpendingCynic: That's brilliant! It's well-known that air compressed itself with no energy expended.


Every storage method involves some loss of energy. The question is which one has the best storage-to-loss ratio, as well as the cost of the storage medium. The best storage medium might be very expensive, so you go with something less efficient but very cheap.
 
2021-10-24 5:36:09 PM  
I was thinking something more like:
Fark user imageView Full Size

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2021-10-24 5:42:16 PM  
 
2021-10-24 5:45:47 PM  

lifeslammer: Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?

You mean other than the somewhat obvious bit about how 99% of civilization is not near a lake. This is something that can be used literally anywhere on the planet


But TFA didn't say that. It said "At first, the logical choice was to use batteries, but only because nobody came up with a better idea until now."  It didn't say "You could use pumped water but you need a hill".

And you don't need to be that near it, electricity cables can run hundreds of miles.

The height difference of Dinorwig is 1600 feet. And you don't need to be near a lake if you can make one. Reservoirs are man made all the time. Also Dinorwig was fairly expensive to build because it's in a national park and a preserved area. If you have somewhere where the pump house can just be a building and the water pipes can be above ground then it would cost far less to build and making it economical at far lower elevations. Bath County in the US is only 1300 feet.  . Ludington Michigan is only 360 feet.  There are lots of these so I suspect they serve more than one percent of civilisation.
 
2021-10-24 5:49:46 PM  

dsmith42: Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?

Because there are a finite number of places suitable to build pumped hydro storage. You can put steel pressure vessels anywhere.


There are already quite a few of them. And again, they can be hundreds of miles from the people they serve.
 
2021-10-24 5:52:09 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: There are already quite a few of them. And again, they can be hundreds of miles from the people they serve.


Looking at that list, China has twenty already operational and thirty five under construction....
 
2021-10-24 5:52:40 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?


You mean the article about compressed air tech from China doesn't talk about hydroelectricity in Wales?

Interesting take.
 
2021-10-24 6:03:17 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?


There is a place in Michigan, between Pentwater and Ludington that does exactly that.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludingt​o​n_Pumped_Storage_Power_Plant
 
2021-10-24 6:14:44 PM  

TWX: fragMasterFlash: What are they doing to keep the storage tanks from corroding from condensation that occurs in the tanks? If the plan is to let it run until it breaks then I for one am glad to be on the opposite side of the planet.

I have an entirely passively-operated moisture removal system on my 80 gallon air compressor.

https://www.gosuburban.com/our-brands/​tsunami-compressed-air-solutions/produ​cts/drains/moisture-minder-pneumatic-d​rain-valve

The device works with a shuttle-valve connected between the pressure vessel and the leader-line between the pump and the checkvalve at the tank inlet.  The shuttle-valve slides into one position when the high-pressure leader line exceeds the pressure of the tank, and then slides into the other position when the leader-line depressurizes after the pump stops.  This causes liquid condensed in the bottom of the tank at the drain valve to push out of the tank and into this contraption, where it then vents as the pump shuts off and the line depressurizes.

No electricity at all.  It did require me to run extra copper lines and to ensure that there was sufficient clearance under my tank so that this device could be installed, but it has been working for several years without problems.

I also installed an old automotive HVAC condenser out of a Dodge Dakota to cool the hot compressed air from the pump before it leaves the coil for an intermediate tank, so most of the moisture condenses into that auxiliary tank, not the main tank.  The aux tank is basically sacrificial, if it dies I'll install a new one.  I can drain the aux tank separately from the main tank and if I felt like it I could put another Moisture Minder on the aux tank.  I haven't bothered, I just go open the valve from time to time and it seems to be good enough.


An interesting solution indeed. Any thoughts on where things might get difficult/expensive when scaling that up by several orders of magnitude?
 
2021-10-24 6:28:26 PM  

leeksfromchichis: Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?

You mean the article about compressed air tech from China doesn't talk about hydroelectricity in Wales?

Interesting take.


And it doesn't talk about the twenty already working and thirty five under construction in China either. TFA said "At first, the logical choice was to use batteries, but only because nobody came up with a better idea until now"when even within China they have fifty five hydro electric storage plants working or soon to be working.

I wasn't claiming the UK was the only one in the world. I named it because it came to mind. I was objecting to TFA suggesting such tech didn't exist.
 
2021-10-24 6:31:54 PM  
I thought India had these cars ages ago.  And as you release the compressed air you get free air conditioning, which I imagine is a huge bonus in a hot country.
 
TWX
2021-10-24 6:33:56 PM  

fragMasterFlash: TWX: fragMasterFlash: What are they doing to keep the storage tanks from corroding from condensation that occurs in the tanks? If the plan is to let it run until it breaks then I for one am glad to be on the opposite side of the planet.

I have an entirely passively-operated moisture removal system on my 80 gallon air compressor.

https://www.gosuburban.com/our-brands/​tsunami-compressed-air-solutions/produ​cts/drains/moisture-minder-pneumatic-d​rain-valve

The device works with a shuttle-valve connected between the pressure vessel and the leader-line between the pump and the checkvalve at the tank inlet.  The shuttle-valve slides into one position when the high-pressure leader line exceeds the pressure of the tank, and then slides into the other position when the leader-line depressurizes after the pump stops.  This causes liquid condensed in the bottom of the tank at the drain valve to push out of the tank and into this contraption, where it then vents as the pump shuts off and the line depressurizes.

No electricity at all.  It did require me to run extra copper lines and to ensure that there was sufficient clearance under my tank so that this device could be installed, but it has been working for several years without problems.

I also installed an old automotive HVAC condenser out of a Dodge Dakota to cool the hot compressed air from the pump before it leaves the coil for an intermediate tank, so most of the moisture condenses into that auxiliary tank, not the main tank.  The aux tank is basically sacrificial, if it dies I'll install a new one.  I can drain the aux tank separately from the main tank and if I felt like it I could put another Moisture Minder on the aux tank.  I haven't bothered, I just go open the valve from time to time and it seems to be good enough.

An interesting solution indeed. Any thoughts on where things might get difficult/expensive when scaling that up by several orders of magnitude?


It's an incredibly simple device.  Only problem with an automotive application as I see it is sloshing, but if the tank shape is right then it could be made to drain properly.  The biggest issue would be having enough pressure variation to make it work consistently and for a service life that an automobile part should be expected to have.

Admittedly I also live in a very, very dry climate.  The amount of condensation here is low enough that what works for me with this part might not be exactly universal.  Testing in a consistently humid climate would be required.
 
2021-10-24 6:38:07 PM  
There's a British design, being built by a Canadian company, to use airbags under the sea. The sea disperses the heat generated, the pressure of the sea keeps the output constant and there's little risk of an explosion because the system relies on the sea pressure working against the air bag.
 
2021-10-24 6:40:06 PM  
Huh.  Just looked it up, and you can get compressed air cars that'll go highway speeds and 50 miles on a fill.  (There's a French company that claims much better range, but it has a lot of issues in my opinion).  And there's a lot less complexity to the vehicle so it's less expensive to build.  Electricity is for lights and the radio.

I'm guessing heating is a problem in cold climates, but cooling certainly isn't with all that expanding air available.

Anyway, if there was a street-legal compressed air car available in Canada, I'd be looking at it for my daily commute... and probably regretting it some time around November.
 
2021-10-24 6:44:14 PM  
 
2021-10-24 6:48:12 PM  

ExYank: The technology seems sound but there does not seem to be any discussion of its economics.

40MW of storage batteries from a dozen or so suppliers can be had for $40 million installed and another million for 20 years maintenance service. All up 41 million over the life of the project. 99% of energy going in comes back out.

How much a huge high pressure system costs is hard to determine. Be very generous and say it only costs $20 million. It is very much a human operated system so assuming 2 people at all times means about 10 full time employees or perhaps $500,000 per year in operating costs. So construction and operation for 20 years adds up to roughly $30 million at least. However, compression is adiabatic so the Carnot limits apply therefor  efficiency (energy out divided by energy in) can not exceed ~60%. That 40MW it stores cost 55-65MW in input. Sure the peak vs off peak pricing may make this profitable but a battery would be 40% more profitable.

At best this tech may be cheaper to install. It is much more expensive to run and vastly less efficient at storing the inputs. Its hard to imagine a scenario where it would make sense. In a grid its just too wasteful. On an isolated island it would work but that staffing cost goes way up.


It uses no rare minerals and is a lot easier on the environment. Difficulty in logistics and ecological impact has to be factored into the cost of each.
 
2021-10-24 6:49:24 PM  

Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?


It's harder to carry an elevated lake in your car?
 
2021-10-24 6:58:03 PM  
Carter Pewterschmidt:

Because it's not about hydro.
 
2021-10-24 6:59:01 PM  

sxacho: Carter Pewterschmidt: TFA ignores storage devices like pumped water, like the UK one in a Welsh mountain. Why make a huge pressure vessel when you can just use a lake and gravity?

It's harder to carry an elevated lake in your car?


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