Chemical News

Monday, October 8, 2007

Underground Storage of Electricity for future Use...A Great Treasure!!!

A coalition of local facilities in Iowa are working out a scheme to store surplus wind energy by placing it underground. The idea being to keep it safely locked up when demand is low so it can then be uncorked at a later date when demand - and, consequently, prices - are higher.

They are planning to build a system that will rely on a gigantic air compressor (as seen in the diagram) to pump air into porous layers of sandstone. These layers of sandstone will act as a giant balloon, allowing for wind energy to be stored until a later time when demand is high - at which point the flow will be reversed, unleashing a large amount of air into a natural gas-fired turbine.

Initially they are planning for 268-MW compressed air energy storage (CAES) system to be completed by 2011.

TXU Energy in West Texas is also hard at work building a large installation of windmills - with a 3,000-MW capacity - that will be connected to a similar CAES system to pump air into underground salt domes. This trend towards storing wind energy is unlikely to peter out any time soon: according to the Electric Power Research Institute, over 85% of the U.S. is characterized by subterranean features that would allow for such a system to be implemented.

The beenfit from this system is that

1. We can store surplus / unusable wind energy tapping its full potential in the form of compressed air.

2. This compressed air can be used in Gas turbines which will give much more power now because in a gas turbine major consumer of fuel power is air compressors.

3. The peak demand can be met easily without requiring additional capacity.

4. Higher load factor for wind mills or other power generators.

Many more........can be envisaged from such systems.
Source : Business Week