Canadian company Hydrostor has just received approval to build the first grid-scale compressed air energy storage system in Australia.
Hydrostor will deploy a 5MW / 10MWh system at a former zinc mine near Strathalbyn, South Australia. The advanced compressed air energy storage (A-CAES) project, expected to cost AU$30 million (US$21.09 million) in total, received development approval and has been welcomed in statements by local politicians including South Australia’s energy and mining minister, Dan Van Holst Pellekaan.
“This is another step in the transition of South Australia’s energy system by the integration of renewable energy into the grid to deliver cheaper, more reliable and cleaner energy,” van Holst Pellekaan said.
“A-CAES is a new energy storage technology for Australia that provides synchronous inertia, load shifting and frequency regulation to support grid security and reliability.”
The system is designed to use surplus electricity generated by nearby solar and wind facilities to run compressors. Air is also heated as it is compressed and stored underground. A Hydrostor video explainer can be seen below.
Caverns will be dug 240 metres below the Angas Zinc Mine site, repurposing the existing mine to store the compressed air, which then drives a generator to produce electricity. The system will be used to help the local electricity network deal with times of peak demand, by outputting energy to the grid when needed.
It’s expected to have a 30-year lifetime in operation, with the South Australian government supporting the project directly with AU$3 million in funding through its Renewable Technology Fund. The national Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is also contributing, putting in AU$6 million of the total cost.
Around 40 jobs will be created for the construction phase, while four staff will be appointed to run the plant over its lifetime. In addition to the Renewable Technology Fund, South Australia also has some incentives in place through its AU$50 million Grid Scale Storage Fund (GSSF), while behind-the-meter storage has been supported through the state’s Home Battery Scheme.
Another novel technology for storing energy using air – liquid air energy storage (LAES) – is also set for big things this year, according to technology provider Highview Power, which has teased a forthcoming 250MWh project announcement over in Britain, while the company also signed a deal this week with energy management company Tenaska Power Services for four potential large-scale LAES projects in the US over two years. The partnership is yet to announce any projects but stated that the first is likely to be in the ERCOT (Electricity Reliability Council of Texas) market, which looks set to begin offering market-based opportunities for energy services for the state's grid network.