FINLAND - Sand Battery Stores Clean Energy

Arno Froese

At the end of a winding, tree-lined country road in western Finland, four young engineers believe they have a possible answer to one of green energy’s biggest challenges.

The challenge is how to provide a year-round, steady power supply from renewable energy during changing seasons and variable weather conditions. The answer nestling in Vatajankoski power plant, 270 km (168 miles) north-west of Finland’s capital, Helsinki, is remarkably simple, abundant and cheap: sand.

The Vatajankoski power plant is home to the world’s first commercial-scale sand battery. Fully enclosed in a 7m (23ft)-high steel container, the battery consists of 100 tons of low-grade builders’ sand, two district heating pipes and a fan. The sand becomes a battery after it is heated up to 600C using electricity generated by wind turbines and solar panels in Finland, brought by Vatajankoski, the owners of the power plant.

Sand is a very effective medium for retaining heat over a long period, storing power for months at a time. And there are other benefits too. “The sand has a very long lifetime: it can heat up and cool off any number of times,” says Ville Kivioja, lead scientist at Polar Night Energy. “It will get denser after a while so needs less space. At that point we can add more sand.”

In 2016, while doing research for his engineering Master’s degree, Tommi Eronen was looking into water-based storage systems for renewable energy. But while reading an article about traditional Finnish fireplaces, made from stone and sand, Eronen had a lightbulb moment.

The innovation has generated a flurry of excitement around the globe. “My phone is constantly ringing and I have thousands of unread emails,” says Eronen.

A small commercial application of a new energy storage system rarely becomes a hot topic, but the sand battery has attracted attention for its potential to even out the power supply from renewable sources., 3 November 2022

Arno's Commentary

When it comes to renewable power, energy storage is the key. It is linked to environmentalism, which continues to attempt to battle global warming. To what extent these Finnish engineers will be successful, only time will tell. But the race is on globally: not hundreds but thousands, if not millions of clever entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists search feverishly for the answer to the world’s seemingly most urgent question.

There is another side of the story, namely spiritual. There, the energy source is pure and inexhaustible. The prophet Isaiah proclaims: “Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:28-29).

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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