Green energy is a popular topic right now, with many countries signing on to the Paris Climate Accord and planning to move away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy.
While most countries are working toward establishing solar and wind power farms, some countries like Canada are looking toward the creation of compressed air storage plants for power storage and generation.
How can compressed air change the way countries use and store green energy?
Compressing air in porous caves can serve as a backup form of power that can be tapped when the demand for power is high. Essentially, the compressed air is stored in caves of porous basalt rock when power demand is low. When more power is needed, the air is heated and piped through turbines to generate power.
This is a great way for countries that already rely on wind power to hedge their bets, so to speak—to ensure that there is a sufficient supply of power even if the wind doesn’t blow as much as they would like.
But a problem with this type of energy storage is that it relies on natural gas to heat the air. As of 2016, natural gas use made up more than one third of the USenergy industry, and while it is more efficient than coal power, it is still a non-renewable resource.
The biggest difference between traditional compressed air storage plants and the new 7 MWh plant approved to be built in Goderich, Ontario, is the way the air is heated before being piped through the turbines. As mentioned, standard plants rely on natural gas to heat the air used to generate power. The new Goderich plant, on the other hand, uses a heat exchange system.
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