Smart Grid Battery: Compressed Air

Compressed air, energy storage

Adiabatic storage (CAES AA) not only saves electricity but also heat. This would lead up to 70% efficiency

Have you already heard of Compressed Air to store renewable energy? 

Compressed air technology compresses air at high pressure and stores it (mostly underground).

There are few projects and they are huge.


Economies of scale affect prices positively because increasing the storage is often associated with low marginal costs.

Compressed Air

Adiabatic storage (CAES AA) not only saves electricity but also heat. This would lead up to 70% efficiency (BINE Information Service). The project is sponsored by the EU ‘Advanced Adiabiatic Compressed Air Energy Storage’ (cooperation of 20 companies and research institutes, called AA-CAES). The results are expected later in 2015.

At this moment at least ten CAES plants are planned in the USA

Case studies

Smart Grid Battery: Compressed Air

The CAES generator is capable of producing up to 110 megawatts of electrical power within 14 minutes of startup during periods of high peak demand

1. Germany

The first CAES plant was built in 1978 in Huntorf, Germany.

Using salt caves a 290MW / 580MWh plant could be built.

To produce 1 kWh of electricity, 0.8kWh electricity and 1.6kWh of gas is needed to heat the air in expulsion. As a result, the overall efficiency is 42%.

Smart Grid Battery: Compressed Air

This compressed air energy storage was built in 1991 in McIntosh, Alabama

2. McIntosh, Alabama – USA

The second compressed air storage was built in 1991 in McIntosh, Alabama with technology from Dresser-Rand (Power South Energy Cooperative, 2015).

The 110MW / 2860MWh storage produces 110MW and can deliver its maximum power within 14 minutes after starting.

The store is part of the McIntosh Power Plant which also can generate 600MW of electricity with gas turbines.

Running at night the plant can supply additional during peak hours.

By using the waste heat from the gas turbines it only needs 1.17kWh gas and electricity 0.69kWh to generate 1 kWh of electricity. This gives an overall efficiency of 54%.

The initial investment costs are $ 65 million. That’s why the cost per kWh are virtually zero if you count the number of cycles.

Smart Grid Battery: Compressed Air

Two British companies have received more than £8 million in government funding to develop liquid-air-based technology for energy storage

3. Highview Power Storage

In the UK, Highview Power Storage and GE Partners started a project in which liquid air is produced.

This can be stored in standard insulated storage tanks at normal pressure, but it requires better and more complex compression technology making a 10MW system.

That’s why the costs are about $ 32 million. (Highview Power Storage, 2015).

Overview Compressed Air Companies and StartUps

Smart Grid Battery: Compressed Air

LightSail Energy is applying thermodynamics to solve the problems of today’s electrical grid.


LightSail is a StartUp providing a mobile compressed air storage with 750 kWh.

With an efficiency of 70%, LightSail is claiming this solution as the cheapest way to store four hours of electricity.

As they say: LightSail Energy is applying thermodynamics to solve the problems of today’s electrical grid.

The LightSail system captures and stores both the mechanical energy and the thermal energy used in compressing air. To do thiw, a water mist is infused into the compression chamber as the air is compressed. When the captured, pressurized air is released back through the system, the heated water is re-infused into it.


That heted air can return more of the energy stored by the system than can other CAES processes. With a 20% capacity factor are the costs of the second generation LightSail products $0,15/kWh.

AES Energy Storage

AES offers the complete alternative to peaking power plants. This market leader has the largest fleet of grid batteries in commercial service and received a notable award in November 2014 of a 20-year contract with Southern California Edison of 100 MW of interconnected battery energy storage. AES partners with industry-leading utilities and power system operators on energy storage projects. Over 44GWh of advanced battery manufacturing were online in 2012.

Enairys powertech LTD

Enairys powertech LTD offers the HYPES system which is developed to use water, air and eco-friendly materials to store, manage and convert, generated electrical energy. This green solution could be adapted to a wide range of stationary applications. Ingenious and eco-friendly!

Read more about the HYPES System

Smart Grid Battery: Compressed Air

Hydrostor claims its system is better than 60% efficient. That means it loses less than 40% of the energy used to charge and release

Hydrostor Incl. Compressed Air Storage System

A Toronto company, Hydrostor Inc., this week launched a new energy source to feed Toronto Hydro‘s power grid. The one megawatt system is a pilot project and is really quite simple. Taking surplus electricity generated during off peak hours to compress air, the system then pumps it into pipes extending offshore in Lake Ontario for 1.9 miles to a depth of 200 feet. The compressed air gets stored in tethered balloons that are held in check by the weight of the water above. Thus completes the charging phase of the operation.

Overview latest energy storage systems

Promising systems

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