image: CAES Development Co.
While I’m not convinced that the issue of renewable energy’s intermittency is as great a problem as it is often made out to be—in the sense that it's not a valid argument against deploying as much renewable energy as we can, as is sometimes claimed—storage solutions for renewable energy sources do need to be developed. In New Jersey, utility PSEG is turning to an often overlooked technology to address the problem.
Two Compressed Air Storage Systems Currently Developed
PSEG announced earlier this week that it would be investing $20 million over the next three years into developing underground compressed-air storage systems for wind turbines. Currently there are two Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) systems operating in the world, one in Alabama and the other in Huntorf, Germany.
The way it works is this: Air is pumped into underground storage chambers (depleted gas wells, salt caverns, or some other formation). There it can be stored until needed, holding enough air for up to several days worth of stored energy. When it is needed, the pressurized air is released from the chamber and used to drive a turbine to make electricity.
To develop PSEG’s compressed-air storage systems it has formed a joint venture, called Energy Storage and Power, with the designer of the Alabama CAES system, Michael Nakamkhin.
PSEG isn’t the only utility looking to CAES technology. :: CNET has the details on a couple other plans in the works in the United States.