People have invented innovative methods for storing everything from energy and water, to industrial waste, data and personal belongings.

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity

Stwlan dam

PSH Dam in North Wales
Image by Arpingstone

Pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH) is a method for storing capacity and then generating electrical power during periods of high demand. It uses water that’s pumped from a lower elevation reservation to a higher elevation artificial storage area. When demand peaks, the stored water is released and runs through turbines, creating electric power. PHS is known to be the largest-capacity method of grid energy storage.

Carbon capture and storage

Basalt

Basalt sample of proposed geological storage space
Image by PNNL

In the case of carbon capture and storage (CCS), carbon dioxide from large power production sources, such as plants that produce fossil fuels, is captured and transported to a storage site. It’s then stored so that it won’t enter and damage the atmosphere. The area used to store and deposit the harmful gas is usually an underground geological formation, or cave. CCS helps to prevent global warming due to fossil fuel emissions, as well as reducing ocean acidification.

Cloud storage

Server racks

Server racks
Image by David Monniaux

Cloud storage is a method of storing data on the Internet. It’s based on the model of networked enterprise storage, which involves storing data on servers hosted in enormous data centres. People or companies that wish to rent cloud storage space either buy or lease the space from these data centres, which are owned by hosting companies. Dropbox, Zip Cloud and Google Cloud are a few examples of popular cloud storage companies.

Self-storage

Self-storage facility

Self-storage facility
Image by Omar Omar

Self-storage companies rent out various sizes of storage units to both the public and to businesses. They provide solutions for reducing clutter in homes or business premises. Unlike traditional storage companies, which rent out storage space on a fixed contract, self-storage companies allow their clients to rent space on a monthly basis, and to deposit and collect their items whenever they please. They typically have facilities that are well secured and conveniently located in or around city centres. XtraSpace is an example of a local, South African self-storage company.

Storage organ

Ginger root

Ginger root
Image by SteveC

The storage organ is a part of a plant that’s modified for storing energy, usually in the form of water and carbohydrates. Commonly known as roots, bulbs or tubers, storage organs often grow underground, helping them to stay safely hidden from hungry herbivores. Storage organs are of particular value to perennial plants because they provide nutrients for use in adverse weather conditions and through dry seasons.

Storage pits

Storage pits

Storage pits in Haifa, Israel
Image by Hanay

A term used in archaeology, storage pits were underground cists used by people to protect seeds for the following year’s crops. These pits were also used to store surplus food, so that it would be protected from insects and rodents. The pits were often lined and covered, using materials like stone, bark and adobe. Among the oldest known examples of storage pits are found in the Aomari Prefecture in Japan, where the pits date as far back as 3900 BC.

Magnetic storage

Seagate HDD

The inner workings of a Seagate hard drive disk
Image by Eric Gaba

Magnetic storage, also sometimes referred to as magnetic recording, is the process of storing data by capturing it on a magnetized medium. For example, the hard disk drive on a computer or mobile device uses this technology to store data. So do the magnetic strips on credit cards.