Sepp Hasslberger: Compressing Air Into Earth for Energy Storage

05 Energy
Sepp Hasslberger
Sepp Hasslberger

Not just blowing in the wind: Compressing air for renewable energy storage

Study IDs 2 compressed air energy storage methods, sites for the Northwest

RICHLAND, Wash. – Enough Northwest wind energy to power about 85,000 homes each month could be stored in porous rocks deep underground for later use, according to a new, comprehensive study. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration identified two unique methods for this energy storage approach and two eastern Washington locations to put them into practice.

Compressed air energy storage plants could help save the region’s abundant wind power – which is often produced at night when winds are strong and energy demand is low – for later, when demand is high and power supplies are more strained. These plants can also switch between energy storage and power generation within minutes, providing flexibility to balance the region’s highly variable wind energy generation throughout the day.

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Click on Image to Enlarge

“With Renewable Portfolio Standards requiring states to have as much as 20 or 30 percent of their electricity come from variable sources such as wind and the sun, compressed air energy storage plants can play a valuable role in helping manage and integrate renewable power onto the Northwest’s electric grid,” said Steve Knudsen, who managed the study for the BPA.

Geologic energy savings accounts

All compressed air energy storage plants work under the same basic premise. When power is abundant, it’s drawn from the electric grid and used to power a large air compressor, which pushes pressurized air into an underground geologic storage structure. Later, when power demand is high, the stored air is released back up to the surface, where it is heated and rushes through turbines to generate electricity. Compressed air energy storage plants can re-generate as much as 80 percent of the electricity they take in.

Read full press release from DOE Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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