Posted by: carboncreditsusa | December 24, 2008

“Compressed Air Energy Storage” (CAES) A Viable Technology For Utilities When Combined With Wind Power Electricity Generation

compressed-air

“compressed air energy storage,” or C.A.E.S.’ essentially involves using electricity to compact air and force it underground. Then, when the air is released and burned with natural gas, it expands, driving turbines and creating electricity.

“…Xcel Energy, a Western utility that uses substantial amounts of wind power, is also studying compressed-air storage in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute,..”

The rise of wind power, however — which increases the need for storage — is helping spur new interest, Mr. Succar added.

 

http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/12/23/an-energy-solution-in-the-compressed-air/

The compressing is done when there is an excess of cheap electricity — at night, for example, when the wind is blowing but nobody has their lights on. Then it can be released when there is strong demand for electricity — in the middle of day, for example, when air conditioners are humming.
Compressed air is one of several innovative storage technologies — including ice — that my colleague Matthew Wald
wrote about last year.

Several states are exploring it, including Iowa, Texas, Ohio and, as my colleague Ken Belson recently reported, New Jersey. The technology is already used at a power plant in Alabama, where compressed air is stored in a salt dome. Germany also has a compressed-air plant. Xcel Energy, a Western utility that uses substantial amounts of wind power, is also studying compressed-air storage in conjunction with the Electric Power Research Institute, according to Steve Roalstad, Xcel’s media-relations director.

Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources is evaluating the technology, too, as it adds wind turbines, according to a recent article in the Toronto Star. Andrew Hewitt, the ministry’s manager of the petroleum resources center, is especially interested in the compressed-air and wind combination as the province shutters coal plants, according to the paper.

So what’s the downside? Samir Succar, an energy analyst with the Natural Resources Defense Council, who co-authored this paper on compressed-air storage for Princeton University, said there are several reasons the technology has not caught on. These include what he described as a “culture of risk-aversion among utilities,” as well as complications in how electricity markets are structured.

 

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