Compressed air energy storage making a comeback

August 21, 2013 | By

Traditional underground compressed air energy storage (CAES), which is one of only two proven long-duration bulk storage technologies, has been commercially available for more than 30 years.  While no new CAES plants have been deployed since 1991, project activity and interest in the technology has grown in recent years, and higher-efficiency next-generation CAES technology is nearing commercialization.

In fact, more than 11 GW of CAES capacity will be installed worldwide from 2013 to 2023, according to Navigant Research.

“Rapidly changing energy mixes and increasing renewable energy penetration will continue to introduce instability onto electricity grids worldwide in the coming years, while the volatility of load profiles will challenge grid operators to deliver reliable and secure electricity,” said Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director with Navigant.  “These macro conditions will drive demand for CAES, helping to rejuvenate a sector that has been largely dormant for the last two decades.”

Growth in this sector will also be driven by advances in isothermal, or adiabatic, CAES, which can be sited anywhere and conveniently scaled using modular units.  A handful of players are innovating in this space, and their technology will be commercially validated in the next 12 to 36 months, according to the research

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