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02 Mar 2009 05:03:08

Salt caverns could store wind power

Salt caverns could store wind power
Compressed air could be stored in salt caverns up to 1,000 metres underground as part of a system to stabilize the supply of electricity from wind power projects.

Renewable energy and storage firm Gaelectric has proposed a £200 million investment to develop a compressed air energy storage facility in Northern Ireland.

The facility would use excess electricity from wind turbines, such as the electricity generated at night, to power air compressors that would pump air into giant salt caverns.

When the wind died down, or to meet peak demand, the air in the caverns could then be used to drive turbines to generate electricity.

Keith McGrena, head of offshore energy and energy storage at the company said: “One of the greatest challenges to unlocking the potential of wind power is to match generation with periods of peak demand. Gaelectric intends to deploy compressed air into underground geological caverns in the Larne area as a means to store energy generated from wind, for release during periods of peak demand, or as required by the grid operator.”

Similar geographical features have also been proposed as storage facilities for natural gas or carbon dioxide captured at fossil-fuel burning power plants.



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