Friday, 25 July 2008

A CAES plant in Central Iowa gets US$1.5 million funding

Central Iowa is preparing to construct a Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) plant to provide clean, dispatachable power using wind energy while simultaneously enhancing the value of stored natural gas reserves.

The development emerged as Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the Committee will fund $ $12.8 million for transportation, economic development and flood control projects in central Iowa. The funding will be included in the 2009 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) and Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee bills.

In the break-up of the funding, it was shared that budget worth US$1.5 million was marked for Iowa Stored Energy Plant (ISEP).

A group of 150 municipally-owned electric utilities in Iowa and surrounding states proposed and financially supported the idea of regional grid stability throughout the Midwest.

On the occasion, Harkin said “As energy costs continue to soar, we must search for new, sustainable and cost-effective methods of production. Iowa is a leader in the production of wind energy, and the Iowa Stored Energy Plant is the first renewable energy-based, energy storage system for wind energy.”

ISEP is a joint project of municipal utilities in Iowa and several nearby states.

In a CAES at the ISEP facility, air will be compressed using low-cost, off-peak electricity, and wind that is not being sold on the grid at that time. The air is stored in a deep underground geological formation for later use in making electricity. When energy is needed, the stored air will be released, heated and used to drive generating turbines. The electricity it produces can be used as needed, especially during high-demand peak hours. This process uses less fuel than a conventional combustion-turbine facility.

By using compressed air energy storage and wind power together, an environmentally friendly, alternative energy source is available to homes and businesses.

The Iowa CAES site will be located near the optimal geological site for storing air, with wind turbines near the best wind resources.

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