Driven by growing penetration of intermittent renewable energy, increasingly constrained grid conditions, and the need for investments in electricity infrastructure, compressed air energy storage (CAES) — a technology that has been commercially available for more than 30 years — is enjoying a surge of renewed interest, according to Navigant Research.
In Asia Pacific, Europe and North America, new installations of CAES are expected to increase steadily over the next 10 years. Growth in the sector will partly be driven by advances in isothermal, or adiabatic, CAES, which can be sited anywhere and conveniently scaled using modular units, according to Navigant.
While no new CAES plants have been deployed since 1991, project activity and interest in the technology has grown in recent years. Higher-efficiency next-generation CAES technology is also nearing commercialization.
“With a total of 400 megawatts installed worldwide, CAES is the second most prevalent form of energy storage on the grid today after pumped hydro,” says Kerry-Ann Adamson, research director with Navigant Research. “At the same time, higher-efficiency next-generation CAES technology, which promises modular and scalable aboveground CAES, is also nearing commercialization.”
Adiabatic CAES will address the locational and scalability constraints faced by traditional CAES, according to the report. Due to those constraints, CAES development has largely been dormant for the past several years, and some high-profile proposed projects have been abandoned due to geological uncertainty or a lack of sufficient forecast revenue.