Compressed-air storage for commercial applications

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From pv magazine Global

Israel-based underground compressed-air storage specialist Augwind has finalised the construction of its first compressed air storage system for commercial application.

The 250 kW/1 MWh AirBattery system will be connected to a PV system located nearby and will be used for behind-the-meter services by the collective community of Yahel, in the southern, desert part of Israel.

“As part of the test run operations, all system components were activated independently and in sequence, a number of charge and discharge cycles were performed, culminating in electricity generation,” Augwind CEO Or Yogev told pv magazine. “This is the first time since the feasibility study at Yakum that the AirBattery system is being tested on a commercial scale of 1 megawatt-hour, this is a significant milestone for Augwind in its technological roadmap, ahead of the construction of high-voltage commercial projects in the future.”

The system works according to the same principles of Augwind’s large scale projects. It is based on two compression inflatable polymer tanks that are placed in the ground close to each other, in addition to a series of storage tanks. The tanks are covered by steel frames, which create a sort of cage around them, and these are then placed in holes at a depth of 4m.

Renewable energy is used to power standard water pumps, which inject water into the compression tanks. The tanks are sealed, so the air they contain starts to be compressed up to the top and then shifts to the storage tanks. With on-demand energy, the compressed air is released from the storage tanks to drive a powerful water turbine which is used to generate electricity.

“The 250 kW/1 MWh system is [a] first of its kind combination of pumped-hydro and compressed-air energy storage in a modular and scalable technical approach that can provide distributed, long-duration energy storage for a variety of applications,” the manufacturer said in a statement. “The AirBattery is using circular water and air as raw materials, with pumps and turbine for power charge and discharge, and compressed-air as the storage element, implemented with Augwind’s proprietary underground tanks, enabling dual land use above the system.”

Compressed air energy storage (CAES) may become an interesting solution for countries such as Israel, with weak interconnection with their neighbours, according to scientists from Finland’s Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT). Crucial for the identification of an ideal location for large scale CAES projects, should be the proximity to renewable energy infrastructure and the electric grid.

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