Energy storage is one of the greatest milestones facing the renewable energy industry. You can’t control the winds or the sun’s rays, so intermittency is a problem and you can’t flood the grid when you most need an electric boost. This also means that a lot of the power that is ready for the grid isn’t used, and is lost. Southwest Solar Technology is developing a totally clean Compressed Air Energy Storage System (CAES) that looks quite promising. The system uses clean technology during the day to pump heated and compressed air into an airtight chamber, which is released through a turbine to create power when it is needed the most.
Compressed Air Energy Systems currently exist in conventional power plants – there is one in McIntosh, Alabama that has been in operation for a decade. These conventional plants compress and heat the air with natural gas or coal, however Southwest Solar Technology is planning to compress and heat the air in their CAES with clean technology. Where a conventional plant will switch from natural gas to coal at night the Southwest Solar Technology plant will switch from solar to wind.
The design hasn’t come to fruition yet, but the fact that conventional power plants have been using this technology for years means that Southwest Solar Technology has a host of information at hand to put their plan into action.
Via New York Times