Compressed air to be utilised as storage for renewable energy

The first advanced compressed air energy storage (A-CAES) in Australia will be built in South Australia, near Strathalbyn.

While the basic technology behind compressed air energy storage has been available since the 19th century, the technology has been improved and taken up at a larger scale with the uptake of renewable energy sources which fluctuate in energy production, such as wind and solar.

Canadian company Hydrostor will build the facility at the former Angas Zinc Mine by turning the old mine into an air-storage cavern, 240 metres underground.

The A-CAES will take energy produced by wind and solar farms to run a compressor which will produce heated, compressed air which will be stored underground. The compressed air is then released to drive a generator when demand for electricity spikes.

The cost of the entire project is $30 million with $3m from the SA government’s Renewable Technology Fund and $6m from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

According to Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan, the site will reduce the cost of electricity in South Australia.

“This is another step in the transition of South Australia’s energy system by the integration of renewable energy into the grid to deliver cheaper, more reliable and cleaner energy,” said van Holst Pellekaan.

For Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, David Ridgway, the successful approval of the site is evidence of the growing market for renewable energy projects in the state.

“With 47 per cent of South Australia’s energy production now coming from renewable sources our state is without doubt a major global player, and this is reflected in the $7 billion worth of investment we’ve attracted into the local industry,” said Ridgway.