Burj Khalifa Architects Collaborate to Transform Skyscrapers Into Innovative Energy Storage Systems

The architectural firm behind the world’s tallest building, Dubai’s 829-meter Burj Khalifa, is introducing a groundbreaking innovation. For the past year, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (SOM) LLP has partnered with Energy Vault, a Swiss-based global energy storage company, to develop systems that can turn skyscrapers into batteries.

How Will It Work?

The process relies on gravity, generating energy by releasing heavy blocks stored on high buildings. First, these blocks are raised using electric motors. When they are lowered, they create energy that can be converted into electricity.

Energy Vault’s first major installation was near Shanghai in a 150-meter building, which was able to supply up to 25 megawatts of power for four hours. SOM’s tech may also be used on much taller buildings, ones starting from 300 meters.

A Push For Renewable Energy Architecture

The partnership between SOM and Energy Vault is all about a commitment to transitioning the world away from fossil fuels through renewable energy architecture.

They want a way to limit carbon emissions and they are already applying many techniques to do so, including better insulation and heat pumps. The issue is the concrete; on average, the production process in cement plants generates about 800 kilograms of CO2 per tonne of cement. For building owners looking to zero out emissions, turning a skyscraper into a battery is one way to do so.

Energy Vault’s chair and CEO, Robert Piconi, said, “Our strategic partnership with SOM opens a new multi-billion dollar market segment for Energy Vault focused on the future of sustainability in new building design and energy efficiency.” 

Such a major endeavor has big plans for the future of sustainability that could mitigate 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions that result from buildings.

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