The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has agreed to provide A$6m ($4.25m) funding to Hydrostor Australia for the development of Australia’s first energy storage project using compressed air.
ARENA stated that Hydrostor will construct a 5MW / 10 MWh fuel-free Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility. The project will re-purpose the Angas Zinc Mine in Strathalbyn, 60km southeast of Adelaide, currently in care and maintenance.
The total cost of this commercial demonstration project is A$30m ($21.3m). The project also received A$3m ($2.13m) in funding from the South Australian Government through its Renewable Technology Fund.
The project will use the existing mine to develop a below-ground air-storage cavern that will use a new design to achieve emissions free energy storage. The facility will provide synchronous inertia, load shifting, frequency regulation and support for grid security and reliability.
ARENA CEO Darren Miller said that the project could open up a new form of renewable energy storage in the country, which can support its investments in providing security and reliable electricity.
Miller said: “While being a commercial demonstration at this stage, Hydrostor’s innovative way to store energy with air could add to Australia’s grid-scale storage capability, complementing pumped hydro and batteries.
“Compressed air storage has the potential to provide similar benefits to pumped hydro energy storage, however it has the added benefits of being flexible with location and topography, such as utilising a cavern already created at a disused mine site. It’s always exciting to see old brownfield sites given a new life and utilised for our transition to a cleaner and renewable future.”
The utilization of the existing mine is expected to increase renewable energy supply to the South Australian and national energy grid, simultaneously converting a brownfield site into a clean energy hub.
The technology works by using electricity from the grid to produce compressed air, which is stored in purpose-built underground cavern kept at constant pressure using hydrostatic head from a water column.
Hydrostor CEO Curtis VanWalleghem said: “Hydrostor is very appreciative of the contributions from ARENA and the Government of South Australia for its first Australian A-CAES project.
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate the significant benefits of adding our flexibly-sited, low-cost, bulk energy storage to the diverse range of technology helping Australia transition to a lower-cost, high system strength, cleaner electricity grid.”