Skyscrapers Being Used As Behemoth Batteries?

An ingenious team of researchers has devised a realistic way to turn skyscrapers into energy conducting batteries.

By Kristi Eckert | Published

skyscraper batteries

The effects that climate change is having on the environment are becoming more and more prevalent by the day. From bleaching coral and melting glaciers to unprecedentedly severe weather, not a single area of the globe is immune to its disruptive and dangerous effects. That being said, scientists have been increasingly attempting to devise ways to deal with and combat the repercussions of climate change. The combined ingenuity of a team of researchers working at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Austria led the group to devise a way in which skyscrapers could be used as batteries.

Scientists working on the skyscraper batteries project have titled it Lift Energy Storage Technology (LEST). Essentially, the LEST system will take advantage of a building’s height to generate a substantial amount of energy. Theoretically, LEST would work by having robots load substantially weighted conductive materials into elevators. The elevators would then be made to continuously go up and down, effectively generating energy akin to that of a battery.

If LEST becomes a reality it could prove to be truly advantageous on multiple levels. First, the number of resources needed to get a system like LEST up and running will be quite minimal. This is because the system takes advantage of an infrastructure that is already in place. That would serve to make implementation measurably easier. Second, these skyscraper batteries would essentially give those edifices energy autonomy. The latter benefit is particularly important. For instance, in the United States, extreme weather is predicted to increase the number of power outages that occur Nationwide. But if a skyscraper is equipped to take advantage of a system like LEST it would be able to generate its own electricity and be less impacted by sweeping power outages.

Moreover, the energy autonomy that using skyscrapers as batteries inherently creates could also be an integral piece in the complete conversion to clean energy. This is because big buildings put a heavy strain on existing electrical infrastructure. And in an age where clean energy solutions like electric cars are becoming more and more mainstream, power grids may not be well equipped to support the enormous output of energy that an all-electric world would require. Using something like LEST could reduce the burden being put on those power grids.

It’s abundantly clear that using skyscrapers as batteries pose many potential pluses. However, there are still a lot of logistics and red tape that need to be sorted before a system like LEST can even begin to be implemented on a small scale. For starters, there is the safety side of things. Experts would have to work to ensure that the weighted materials being used to power those immense structures can handle the load. Once all the math and engineering woes are sorted then comes the matter of actually convincing the owners and operators of those giant edifices to adopt LEST. Thus while the idea to use skyscrapers as batteries comes with numerous benefits, it will likely be a long while before it even has the potential of being turned into a reality.