Tall order

Forward-thinking skyscraper designs double as sustainable energy storage systems.

Sustainable energy storage solutions company Energy Vault has partnered with architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) to design the future of sustainable building architectures that integrate energy storage into building design. SOM is the architectural firm behind super skyscrapers such as the One World Trade Center and the Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world).


The four energy storage solutions, titled EVu, EVc, EVy, and EV0, make use of Energy Vault’s gravity energy storage systems (GESS), which use the force of gravity to generate electricity by lifting and then dropping a weight. One particular design, EVu, integrates the technology into supertall skyscraper designs.


EVu is a superstructure tower design which improves unit economics and enables GESS integration into tall buildings through the use of a hollowed structure of heights above 300 metres up to 1 000 metres. These structures will have the capacity to reach multi-GWh of gravity-based energy storage to power not only the building itself but also adjacent buildings’ energy needs. This innovative design will, for the first time in building construction and operation history, enable a carbon payback within accelerated timeframes of three to four years.


‘The combination of our pioneering work in gravity energy storage technology with the global track record and expertise of the most widely renowned engineering, design and architecture firm in the world will provide the first platform toward delivering accelerated carbon payback in building construction and operation for the first time,’ said Robert Piconi, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Energy Vault.


The three other designs - EVc, EVy, and EV0 - also explore new gravity energy storage systems. EVc enables the deployment of large scale pumped hydro energy storage systems integrated within tall building structures using a modular water-based system. Its cylindrical shape is an optimised design to withstand environmental factors such as wind and seismic events.


EVy applies Energy Vault’s core gravity technology to pre-existing slopes and topography to store energy with minimal environmental impact and reduce the need for man-made structures, while EV0 allows for all the technical and economic benefits of traditional pumped hydro storage while eliminating negative consequences associated with concrete production and disruption to existing wildlife ecosystems. This innovative ‘modular pumped hydro’ system leverages a unique and low cost fabric vessel (the ‘Water Tree’) to store the water in pre-manufactured modules that can be deployed quickly while leveraging proven pump turbines and penstock designs for existing pumped hydro systems.



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