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Siemens (SI), GE and start-up backed by Bill Gates are among those developing different methods...

Siemens (SI), GE and start-up backed by Bill Gates are among those developing different methods for storing surplus energy. It's not just about batteries, with one technique using excess electricity to pump compressed air into caves and then releasing that air to generate power when needed. The storage is needed to cope with the vagaries of solar and wind energy.
Comments (16)
  • wigit5
    , contributor
    Comments (4101) | Send Message
     
    Oh Bill Gates is there anything that you don't have a hand in?!?!
    28 Aug 2012, 09:50 AM Reply Like
  • gausmus
    , contributor
    Comments (98) | Send Message
     
    Funny how having lots of money will make you forget the first and second laws of thermodynamics. These schemes are expensive and trivial, when held next to grid demands. But Siemens will cheerfully take your money, Bill.
    28 Aug 2012, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • bmwr1200c
    , contributor
    Comments (181) | Send Message
     
    I was about to say the same, Bill you can not create a perpetual machine.
    You can not create the same amount of energy by any means or power generation that was used up to compress air.
    But for some time it will provide few people their bread and butter.
    28 Aug 2012, 10:09 AM Reply Like
  • jimgo43
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    In a manufacturing setting, compressed air is the most expensive utility that a plant can have. This makes no sense.
    28 Aug 2012, 11:19 AM Reply Like
  • RP_NY
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
     
    I am an optimistic and Proactive person by nature; however it is unlikely this scheme would be practical since ENERGY is required to compress the air, which pretty much nullifies its efficiency. A scheme which is more practical for example would be to store the energy that would be available by storing tidal water in reservoirs (yes, I know about the corrosion issues with salt water, however this issue could be overcome. To sum it up, Energy storage and creation must be efficient first, then storage would be the next objective. Just my 2 cents... :)
    28 Aug 2012, 11:19 AM Reply Like
  • JohnInMA
    , contributor
    Comments (45) | Send Message
     
    Clearly some here don't understand the idea of opportunity costs. No one expects energy storage to be 100% efficient, returning everything that is generated and delivered for storage. But there is an economic benefit even though there are thermodynamic inefficiencies. After all, thermal plants are shockingly inefficient in generating power to begin with, so inefficiencies are everywhere.

     

    But since there has always been unused capacity from all generators, storage has a big potential to better utilize capital investments and ultimately impact the average unit cost of electricity. Even before renewable mandates, peaker plants and spinning reserves were a part of the generating network. With renewables, they become more critical. Imagine if storage technology evolves the point where it is economically beneficial to keep normally cycling plants running at near capacity most of the time. When not needed, their output could be switched to storage eliminating as much of the cycle down time. It would even make short term regulating of power quality easier and less expensive with higher amounts of renewables, one of the bigger cost areas currently.
    28 Aug 2012, 11:20 AM Reply Like
  • bolesky
    , contributor
    Comments (19) | Send Message
     
    just imagine
    29 Aug 2012, 09:33 PM Reply Like
  • bolesky
    , contributor
    Comments (19) | Send Message
     
    There is that word - " imagine "
    29 Aug 2012, 09:33 PM Reply Like
  • JohnInMA
    , contributor
    Comments (45) | Send Message
     
    What' the heck is your point???? Is there no role for imagination in technology development in your eyes?

     

    I think you entirely missed my point. Just because a technology is not fully feasible on an economic front doesn't mean there is no merit in seeking to improve it. The downside benefits have to be measured.against the risk. And the downside for storage is huge. How much risk should be taken is a valid debate.
    30 Aug 2012, 11:13 AM Reply Like
  • sethmcs
    , contributor
    Comments (3280) | Send Message
     
    There are 90 billion in green energy dollars to be had. GE, SI and Bill want their fair share.
    28 Aug 2012, 11:20 AM Reply Like
  • Tack
    , contributor
    Comments (13401) | Send Message
     
    The energy of the atom could power man's endeavors until the end of time, but a combination of ignorance, fear and politics, instead, fosters plans, like the above (as well as windmills, ethanol, even today's solar), which are completely inefficient and nonsensical.

     

    However, as it will, no doubt, employ lots of union workers, I'm sure Big Government is all for it.
    28 Aug 2012, 12:10 PM Reply Like
  • bechacha
    , contributor
    Comments (11) | Send Message
     
    compressed air energy of course has huge problems---namely inefficiency. HOWEVER, is you are going to invest in a compressed air system, then you want to invest in a modular fungible system, not something dependent on the stratigraphy (layering) of the ground beneath to provide for useful caves.

     

    The best compressed air systems I'm aware of are actually liquefaction systems . They chill air and liquify it to be stored in a giant thermos like storage tank. When needed, the liquified air is remixed with atmospheric air at ambient temperature , rapidly heating it in a contained space to high pressure air than can run a turbine.

     

    This system, while perhaps unacceptably inefficient, is far more deserving of investors dollars than the decades old notion of pressurized caves for storing energy.
    28 Aug 2012, 01:20 PM Reply Like
  • TwistTie
    , contributor
    Comments (2476) | Send Message
     
    Dewy has more energy than Siemens, GE and Mr. Bill combined.
    28 Aug 2012, 01:59 PM Reply Like
  • kmi
    , contributor
    Comments (4030) | Send Message
     
    This is being explored and has been in the works by multiple companies for some time. NY's Beacon Energy is an example (BCON) although I believe the company went bust.

     

    http://bit.ly/x2l6Ae

     

    The flywheel technology they employed is similar to kinetic energy recovery systems tested but not popular in Formula1.

     

    Alternative solutions proposed have been large scale battery banks, which are likewise being implmented but not popular.

     

    The future seems to be in smart metered homes powering their hybrids and EVs and using the EV battery packs to iron out the peaks and valleys in grid demand.
    28 Aug 2012, 02:53 PM Reply Like
  • dgutting
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
     
    This is clearly a solution that creates more problems than it solves.
    It would never see a penny without our out of control government. If they had to collect every dollar of tax at retail sale only, these perpetual government schemes would all vaporize.
    Dan 1962 Imperial
    28 Aug 2012, 09:14 PM Reply Like
  • gausmus
    , contributor
    Comments (98) | Send Message
     
    In re: JohnInMA's comment. You are right as to the opportunity cost and the marginal cost of operating a generation facility. There are times when the capacity to produce power (or shed load) is very valuable and thermal efficiency doesn't matter. That said, the project still has problems from two perspectives.

     

    1) The clock hours in a year when capacity is valuable are few in number. These numbers are publicly available from MISO, PJM, ERCOT, etc. So, the project must make sense vs. other alternatives (load shedding, predominantly). New gas fired capacity is maybe $1200/kW, which is a tough price target for compressed air facilities. Load shedding is even cheaper than that, and we've only scratched the surface of this resource in the U.S.

     

    2) Even if you can get past 1), the project has to overcome the triviality issue, ie, a 1 or 2 MW capacity project is too small to have any meaningful change in the capacity/demand balance at the ISO or utility level. And that's what matters.

     

    There's another test out there that all should consider. Investor owned utilities have a very low cost of capital and every incentive to invest (that's how they earn, after all). If the IOU's could dream up a scenario that showed benefit to ratepayers, these things would pop out of the ground like toadstools after a summer rain. They don't. That speaks to the (non) viability of this technology very loudly.

     

    Those outside the industry can hope, dream, imagine. Investors (that's what Seeking Alpha is about, right?) will take a pass absent subsidies pointed at the technology.
    5 Sep 2012, 08:47 AM Reply Like
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