Compressed Air: A New Energy Option?

June 28, 2013
Harnessing the power of the earth for electricity.

The Pacific Northwest alone could power roughly 85,000 homes by storing compressed air in porous rocks underground, according to new research.

Compressed air plants draw power from the electric grid during off-peak periods and use it to power large air compressors that push pressurized air into underground geologic storage.

When power demand is high, the stored air is released to the surface, heated, and pushed through turbines to generate electricity. The plants can regenerate as much as 80% of the electricity they use, researchers say.

The research team has identified two potential sites for compressed air generation plants – one sits north of Boardman, OR, on the Washington side of the Columbia River and could house a conventional compressed air facility due to its proximity to a natural gas pipeline.

The other, located 10 miles north of Selah, WA, has no access to natural gas and would require geothermal energy to power a chiller to keep the air compressors cool and efficient, as well as reheat the air when it’s released to the surface.

The stored power would be especially useful during the spring, when melting snow and a large amount of wind (which often blows at night when power demand is low) offer more renewable energy resources than the region can utilize.

The performance and economic data from the study will now aid an in-depth analysis of the technology’s net benefits to the Pacific Northwest.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Buildings, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Building Security & Technology Month

This special collaborative series will consist of the four one-hour events below, as well as an Executive Summary Digital eBook distributed to all readers that will be available...

Building Better Schools

Download this digital resource to better understand the challenges and opportunities in designing and operating educational facilities for safety, sustainability, and performance...

Tips to Keep Facility Management on Track

How do you plan to fill the knowledge gap as seasoned facility managers retire or leave for new opportunities? Learn about the latest strategies including FM tech innovations ...

The Beauty & Benefits of Biophilic Design in the Built Environment

Biophilic design is a hot trend in design, but what is it and how can building professionals incorporate these strategies for the benefits of occupants? This eHandbook offers ...