Claim: compressed air in underground rocks could be the next batteries 

Posted: January 26, 2019 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
Tags: ,

Scottish offshore wind project [image credit :]

The very fact that these kinds of idea are being put forward is another admission that renewables are chronically intermittent and unreliable as electricity generators. We’re told ‘considerable investment’ would be needed but they ignore the fact that, for less cost and complexity, some reliable new gas power stations would be a far more practical plan.

By pumping compressed air into porous rocks deep under the sea floor, scientists think we could effectively store energy for months at a time, says Discover magazine.

With reports about climate change becoming increasingly dire, it’s increasingly important to find an eco-friendly way to not only generate energy, but also store it.

After all, wind turbines and solar power and the like don’t run steadily. So we can’t just stick that extra energy in a bottle to use when the wind dies down and the sun sets.

Only no, that’s almost exactly what a group of Scottish scientists is proposing. Except, in this case, the bottle is a layer of porous rocks deep within the sea bed, and the energy comes from compressed air.

You simply [sic] use your renewable energy source to compress and store the air, and then when you need the energy again you pop the cork, so to speak, and let the escaping air drive a turbine that re-generates the electricity. (Thanks to the extreme pressures down there, the air would stay in place, and not escape on its own.)

The researchers unveiled the details behind the plan, dubbed porous media compressed air energy storage (PM-CAES), in a Nature Energy paper this week. It’s a simple-sounding mix of technologies that could seriously make a dent in a country’s energy production — and mitigate the trends that are pushing the global climate to extremes.

Compressed Air of Superiority

Currently this plan is all theoretical — the paper just runs the numbers on the idea to see if it’s at all practical. But boy, does it seem to be.

The authors specifically looked at how a PM-CAES system could work for the United Kingdom, using the sandstone deep below the waters of the North Sea. They looked at existing geological records to model the terrain, and assumed the air “wells” would be physically near to the energy sources they’d be storing — offshore wind turbines, for example.

According to the researchers, it could really work.

Continued here.
– – –
Nature Energy article: Inter-seasonal compressed-air energy storage using saline aquifers

  1. vuurklip says:

    “According to the researchers, it could really work”

    Yeah, right. According to “researchers”, the earth should already be burning, millions of climate migrants, mass starvation, new ice age, more snow, less snow, coffee bad for you, coffee good for you, low carbs, high carbs, low fat, high fat …

    No end to BS.

  2. mlr77062 says:

    One problem in using underground formations for compressed air. Most contain water. The Joule-Thompson effect and the large reduction in temperature would be throwing ice into turbine blades. Also, the energy input/output ratio would be high.

  3. karabar says:

    According to me, the “researchers” have now reached the peak stupid tipping point.

  4. oldmanK says:

    That is really old technology, and used carefully it might show economic efficiency – heat rate. The stored air might not smell of 4711, but if it smell of hydrocarbon gas the gas-turbine will love it.

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    Speaking of technology my colleague ( Johnathon Swift) and I are developing a plan to store solar energy in cucumbers. Thus solar energy would be available at night and on cloudy days.
    Please send £1,000,000,000 (or more) for this breakthrough in renewable energy.

  6. JB says:

    These tardies have never fought with compressor leaks. Amplifiers oscillate, oscillators don’t, and compressed air systems fart.

  7. cognog2 says:

    A quick guess on my part concludes that you would probably require over 5 times the wind generating capacity to service a reliable supply. You can’t beat thermodynamic law and intermittency without considerable cost.

  8. MrGrimNasty says:

    Will this be bound by the same ‘earthquake’ limits as fracking?

  9. Mike Flynn says:

    The hydraulic accumulators in the Eiffel tower worked nicely for over 100 years, storing energy, and releasing it in a controlled fashion to drive lifts etc.

    I’d be inclined assume the scientists have got too much time on their hands, though. Of course, they have no intention of paying for their brainfarts, or committing hari-kiri if things go dreadfully wrong.

    These scientists might be better employed picking up litter from the roadside, or holding up shovels for the local council.


  10. Bob Greene says:

    I could keep tanks of compressed air instead of batteries, run my portable radio from a tank of air. Since it is at high pressure it will stay after you put it down there. Sounds practical to me. Close all the fossil fuel plants in Scotland and start drilling. Free electricity.

  11. stpaulchuck says:

    I hope this cartoon shows up, otherwise click over to it.

  12. oldbrew says:

    Bob Greene says: Close all the fossil fuel plants in Scotland and start drilling.

    They don’t need to – not yet, anyway.

    40 years of oil drilling in the North Sea has produced … about 11,000 wells
    But they say another 7,000 would be needed – what could possibly go wrong? 😆

  13. oldbrew says:

    All this to support a system that won’t work anyway, as we see in parts of Australia for example…

    Jo Nova: Nearly a billion dollars for electricity for just one day — $500 per family
    The Electro-pyre conflagration escalates.

    The cost of electricity on Thursday in two states of Australia reached a tally of $932 million dollars for a single day of electricity.
    . . .
    This is what happens when an electricity grid is run by kindergarten arts graduates who struggle with numbers bigger than two.
    – – –
    A day in the life of a SE Australian energy consumer

    No country on Earth with lots of renewables has cheap electricity. How many times do I have to repeat it? This is my mantra for 2019.

    In Australia when we had mainly coal and no renewables our electricity was cheap and reliable. Now we are still mainly coal, but all it takes is a poisonous small infiltration of subsidized unreliable renewables to destroy the former economic incentives, the whole market, the system: our lifestyle.
    – – –
    No fun when it’s 40-odd degrees C and the power to the air con gets cut off.

  14. oldmanK says:

    Quote part : ” Nevertheless both plants are commercially viable. “

  15. oldbrew says:

    Crucially, diabatic CAES is part energy storage and part natural gas combustion. Hence it has similar emissions to conventional gas turbines.

    No use to greenies then.

  16. Bitter@twisted says:

    Bob Greene As long as you mean drilling for gas, I’m with you.

  17. James. says:

    Arn’t we already doing this. We store natural gas underground, and it works much better than compressed air.

  18. oldbrew says:

    James. says: January 29, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    Is the natural gas stored under compression?