The World’s First Commercial-Grade Mechanical Battery is Storing Wind Power Under the Sea

Have you ever seen a giant wind turbine standing idle on an otherwise windy day? I come across several turbines during my daily commute and have wondered why these lazy turbines aren’t doing their jobs. I have to work, why does this turbine just get to sit around all day! Do they just break all of the time or something? Well, it turns out I was being a bit too pessimistic about wind power technology.

In reality, the turbines are idle because they’ve met energy demands. Currently, renewable energy sources must curtail generation whenever the amount of electricity they produce exceeds user demand. Instead of continuing to take advantage of windy conditions, the turbine must shut down until further production is needed. Solar is in the exact same situation. Whirl Energy is building a solution to keep energy resources churning even after demand is met.

Whirl Energy’s challenge is to develop an efficient mechanical system for storing surplus power in order to maximize the generation of electricity from clean, renewable sources. Storing this energy in an electric battery is costly, so Whirl Energy is turning to a mechanical solution.


As a proof-of-concept, the Company has built a 1/10-scale prototype of a submerged buoy system, which uses surplus power to crank buoys underwater to a depth of roughly 100 meters. Whenever power is needed, the buoys are slowly released and their buoyancy force supplies stored electricity as they rise to the surface.

To bring the first commercial-scale buoyant mechanical batteries to life, Whirl Energy turned to SOLIDWORKS. The Company relies on SOLIDWORKS design, structural analysis, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis, and product data management (PDM) solutions to develop an innovative, mechanical, submerged-buoy approach to storing excess electrical power generated from renewable sources.

“SOLIDWORKS is intuitive and advanced, particularly with its FEA [finite element analysis] integration,” Whirl Energy President Saben Murray explains. “SOLIDWORKS provides the sophisticated features that allow us to simulate the unique mechanics involved with winching five-meter-diameter buoys 100 meters underwater.”


In addition to modeling the submerged buoy system, validating its performance, and building a functional prototype, Whirl Energy leverages SOLIDWORKS visualization tools to demonstrate how the system works. “Without SOLIDWORKS, we would have a much harder time communicating what the system is and how it operates,” Murray points out.

“It’s critical that investors and prospective customers understand what we’re creating,” he continues. “It’s one thing to tell them about a power storage system that utilizes concrete anchors, underwater winches, tethers, pulleys, trusses, and buoys. However, showing them a photorealistic image of the complete system rendered with PhotoView 360 is much more effective for communicating how the system will actually work and for generating support for building a full-scale, commercial application.”

Click here to read the full story behind Whirl Energy’s development of the world’s first commercial-scale buoyant mechanical batteries and view Whirl Energy’s work in eDrawings.




Mike Fearon

Mike Fearon

Senior Manager Brand Offer Marketing, Dassault Systemes SOLIDWORKS. Video game world champion and whisky advocate. I like turtles.