Roy Daniel talks to NGA about the benefits of Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES), which has been described as a ‘game-changing technology’.
NGA. Why is this technology so significant for the industry?
Roy Daniel. Renewables, including sun and wind energy, are critical to addressing climate change. However, the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow but electricity is needed all the time. Peak wind periods generally are in the spring and fall, and in the evening; this doesn’t usually line up with peak periods for electricity use.
Compressed air energy storage (CAES) changes this picture by storing off-peak energy in the form of compressed air, typically overnight, and then releasing the energy during peak hours, typically during the day. CAES units can manage wind output to create a highly valuable firm ‘dispatchable’ product. A CAES unit protects the wind farm from transmission congestion, which can lead to lower energy prices, potential curtailments of wind generation and, thus, lower land lease royalty payments.
NGA. How does CAES work?
RD. Basically, a compressed air energy storage system allows you to compress air, converting electrical energy to high-pressure air stored underground or in above-ground tanks. When the energy is needed, the air is used to turn turbines and generate electricity.
NGA. How will this technology promote the growth of renewables in the energy mix?
RD. In two key ways: The first is by enabling clean, reliable and affordable power to be more closely integrated into the grid, reducing the need to run fossil fuel plants or build new ones. Second, CAES technology also promotes the growth of renewables by providing power in the event of a sudden loss of renewable generation. CAES can fully realize the value of renewable energy and thus significantly advance our nation toward energy independence and a clean, environmentally sound future.
NGA. Can you discuss how CAES developed?
RD. CAES has been around for some time. Dr Michael Nakhamkin has been a leader in the compressed air energy storage field for nearly two decades and both patented and supervised the technical work for North America’s only CAES plant in McIntosh, Alabama. The plant has been successfully operating for 16 years so this is proven technology. However, the Alabama plant has air emission rates well above current best available control technology. In addition, this early version of the technology comes in only one size with specific requirements for compressing the air. Today’s CAES technology has advanced to second generation with significantly enhanced capabilities by using a modular design of industry-proven components to optimize the unit to your market requirements. The unit uses best available control technology for air emissions and offers more flexible operations, lower capital cost, and unit sizes from 15MW to 430MW.
NGA. Why did PSEG decide to invest in CAES?
RD. PSEG examined the technology for its own use and decided that the potential was great enough that it wanted a larger role in helping the electric power sector to embrace this substantially improved compressed air energy storage technology. PSEG sees this as important to a broad effort to combat climate change, which needs to include increased conservation, the expanded use of renewables and new, clean central station power.
NGA. Could you discuss the joint venture to market and deploy CAES plants?
RD. PSEG Global and Dr Nakhamkin formed Energy Storage and Power LLC, a joint venture to design and deliver on a turnkey basis on its patented second generation of CAES technology. Potential customers include electric utilities, independent power producers, wind and other renewable energy developers, and transmission owners.
Compressed air will make clean renewable energy more accessible to the marketplace in the not-too-distant future. Energy storage and grid regulation from CAES fill in the missing piece of the puzzle for a green, affordable and reliable 21st century electric grid.
As CEO for Energy Storage and Power LLC, Roy Daniel is responsible for project analysis, marketing and delivery of patented, second-generation compressed air energy storage (“CAES2”) units. Daniel has more than two decades of experience in energy project development and power asset operations. He is a professional engineer and certified public accountant, and is admitted to the legal bar of four states and the District of Columbia.