Canadian innovator Hydrostor is looking around Australia for suitable sites for its compressed air storage technology, which it says can provide electricity at half the cost of competing battery technology, and can also utilise former mine sites and coal-fired power stations.
The technology involves converting off-peak electricity into compressed air and storing it in sites such as caverns or in underwater vessels, and then releasing it to generate electricity. The heat generated during compression is also stored to provide additional energy when the air is released and negate the need for fossil-fuel inputs.
The Adiabatic Compressed Air Energy Storage technology has already been piloted in Canada, where a marine storage system was installed offshore from Toronto Island in November 2015. The system feeds into Toronto Hydropower’s grid on demand.
Another installation at Goderich in Canada with 7MWh storage capacity is currently under construction, and the company has inked a contract to construct a 6MWh storage installation with a 1MW power rating in Aruba.
The company has appointed AECOM to help its entrance to the Australian market and search for suitable locations in Queensland, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.
AECOM’s Process Technologies division based in Austin, Texas has an ongoing partnership with Hydrostor to commercialise the technology and deliver turn-key CAES facilities.
It is proposed to use the land-based Hydrostor Terra version of the concept in Australia.
“Hydrostor’s entry into the Australian market changes the conversation on cost effective, emission-free alternatives to fossil-fuel generation and limited storage technologies,” Hydrostor chief executive Curtis VanWalleghem said.
“Hydrostor Terra beats natural gas to deliver essential services and dispatchable capacity, while offering longer duration and longer life storage of 30-plus years versus batteries, at half the cost. Terra’s sizing and siting flexibility also offers significant advantages over pumped hydro.”
The technology can be deployed at any site within proximity to a body of water and can also be installed in legacy mine sites or at retired coal-fired plants.
According to the Australian Energy Council, there are currently nine decommissioned coal-fired power plants in Australia that closed down between 2010 and 2016. There are three in NSW, two in Victoria, two in Queensland and two in South Australia. A third Victorian plant, Hazelwood, has entered the decommissioning phase this year.
There is also no shortage of former mine sites, either. Corinne Unger from the University of Queensland’s Centre for Mined Land Rehabilitation has estimated that there are about 50,000 derelict mines across the country.