Storing renewable energy

All over the world, lives could be improved if there were better ways to store the energy harnessed from renewable sources like the sun or wind. Could you work with us to bring cost-effective energy to millions?

portable solar power pack-125The Challenge

Our Sustainable Living Plan includes a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and find better ways to use and store natural sources of energy. Renewable energy sources like wind and solar can make a massive difference to the environment as a whole and to individuals and communities, especially in the developing world – but there is an urgent need to find small-scale energy storage systems that keep releasing power when, for example, the sun has gone down or the wind has stopped blowing.

Power to the consumer

We are looking for potential partners who have concepts or technologies that would allow energy to be stored simply, cost-effectively, and locally – at the level of a single appliance, an individual home, or perhaps a service business or factory.   The challenge we're facing is a substantial one, and we are looking for truly novel solutions which are not yet in the marketplace – which is why we're taking an open innovation approach.  But the rewards are also great: working with us could help bring basic sanitation and hygiene to millions of consumers.

What we're thinking

We'd like to hear from anyone who has a serious and genuinely innovative scientific, technological or design proposition for small-scale, cost-effective energy capture. These are just some of the areas that we'd be interested in collaborating on:

  • heat exchange – harnessing temperature differentials, for example the difference in temperature below ground and the temperature of the air, in sustainable ways

  • height differentials – many traditional technologies use store energy by moving water upwards, so that energy can be released when it flows down again. We'd be interested in technologies that make use of height but do not rely on water, which is scarce in much of the developing world

  • hydrogen – small-scale, cheap ways to generate hydrogen could provide a source of fuel or electricity

  • thermal storage – harnessing the energy released by phase changes in materials, for example from gas to liquid, or from liquid to solid

What we need

There are only two key criteria that any innovation must meet if we are to address this challenge:

  • cost-effectiveness – the solution cannot require large-scale industrial infrastructure or investment

  • local application – we need solutions that can be implemented, maintained, and used at a very local level

Could you help us create a better future?

If you have a design or technical solution that could help us meet this challenge, we'd like to hear from you(Link opens in a new window).