• 5 hours India, China, U.S., Complain Of Venezuelan Crude Oil Quality Issues
  • 10 hours Kurdish Kirkuk-Ceyhan Crude Oil Flows Plunge To 225,000 Bpd
  • 14 hours Russia, Saudis Team Up To Boost Fracking Tech
  • 20 hours Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 21 hours Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 22 hours Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 2 days Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 2 days Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 2 days China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 2 days UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 2 days Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 2 days VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 2 days Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 2 days Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 2 days OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 3 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 3 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 3 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 3 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 3 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 3 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 5 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 6 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 6 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 6 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 6 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 6 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 7 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 7 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 7 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 7 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 7 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 7 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 7 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 7 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 7 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 8 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 8 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
  • 8 days Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas
Alt Text

Is This The Missing Link In Lithium Batteries?

Lithium batteries created with asphalt…

Alt Text

Tesla Execs Bail As Cash Flow Hits Record Lows

Amid a rough second quarter…

Alt Text

Russia To Become A Leader In Energy Storage

Russia, normally a hub of…

Why Air Bags May Be the Answer to Clean Energy’s Viability

Why Air Bags May Be the Answer to Clean Energy’s Viability

Stop a dozen people on the street and ask them what the biggest challenge facing alternative energy is, and most would probably answer along the same lines. There would be some vague notion of finding, or maybe developing, clean energy sources to prepare for the day when we exhaust the Earth’s supply of fossil fuels.

Ask many experts, though, and they will tell you that we already have viable solutions and now just need to solve one central problem: storage.

The answer to that may be something as simple as giant bags of air.

Clean energy sources have a major storage problem, because the big ones at least -- wind, wave and solar -- are neither constant nor adjustable. Obviously, the wind doesn’t blow constantly, nor are a calm ocean or cloudy days unknown. Energy from those sources, then, must be produced when possible and stored for use when needed. Even if a more consistent flow of energy could be achieved, demand fluctuates to such an extent that storage would still be necessary.

Various solutions already exist. Pumped hydro, where water is pumped to higher elevation at peak production times and then released to drive turbines when demand outstrips supply, is one solution. There are limitations, though, most notably those related to geography; nearby high ground is needed if massive construction costs are to be avoided.

Compressed air has also already been used in some cases, with storage either underground or in tanks, but cost, storage space, and inefficiency have all presented their own problems.

Enter Canadian start up Hydrostor and their underwater air storage system. The company's website explains how the system works, but the basic principle is straightforward. Large bags of pressurized air are kept deep underwater, preferably at depths of over 300 feet, where the pressure of the water above acts as a compressor.

Power at peak generation times is used to pump the air down into the bags. Then the air is released at times of peak demand and used to power a turbine, which produces electricity.

The system isn’t perfect -- no energy storage system is -- but the 70 percent efficiency rate that the company claims is acceptable, especially in the light of other serious advantages. Most notably, two popular alternative energy collection methods, wave and wind power, are often located offshore, where the pre-requisite for Hydrostor’s system, deep water, exists naturally.

There have been previous attempts at doing similar things, but none have achieved the degree of efficiency claimed by Hydrostor. Those claims will be tested soon, when completion of their first project -- in Lake Ontario – happens later this month. If there are no problems, we will have the world’s first commercial underwater compressed air storage facility.

Martin Tillier of Oilprice.com




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Mulham Masih on August 20 2014 said:
    It is great to know that if the project succeeds we will have underwater compressed air storage facility.
  • Randall Griffin on August 20 2014 said:
    It's at least a plausible possibility. But experience over the last decade has proven that it is extremely difficult, even for "green" solutions that have widespread support, to navigate among the multiple federal and state agencies who get involved in any kind of construction project that is in water. It's possible that I missed an "in-service" announcement somewhere, but last time I looked there were exactly zero off-shore wind farms operating in the U.S. despite the fact that a few projects (NJ, DEL, and MICH/OH) have been trying to obtain permits for nearly a decade. Building an offshore deepwater air compression facility next to an offshore wind farm sounds like a good idea -- but it presupposes that multiple tiers of government will eventually stop putting up barriers to building the wind farm offshore. And I'm afraid tidal power facilities will never be built -- tides are strongest near the shore, the same place that green activists will defend as ecologically sensitive wetlands. The number and size of the environmental impact studies that will be necessary for any proposal that would disturb the natural flow of water in and out of tidal basins will be staggeringly expensive and time-consuming.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News