A while ago I was reading about compressed air energy storage in natural underground caverns (probably in something from the IET) and I was surprised that something similar doesn’t get mentioned more along with renewable generation like wind power. On the other hand, the unpredictability of wind does seem to get mentioned as a limiting factor much more; understandably it’s a little hard to react to peaks in demand and energy price if you have no control over when the wind blows.
Given the growing number of off shore wind farms, I wondered if wind energy could be stored by pumping sea water out of something like a large diving bell, allowing the water back in to generate electricity on demand. Turns out that ‘something like a large diving bell’ is a submerged, open bottomed, anchored caisson.
(cc) some rights reserved. Thanks to phault and Zach Putnam for their photos.
The idea might not get a lot of air time but parliament seem interested in storage techniques in general, and there are examples of the possibility being researched and developed, so there may be a future for renewables without as much baseline capacity required from non-renewables. What do you think?
Update: not for offshore wind farms, but @USR_VRB pointed out a very interesting post about a compressed air project, where the air is used to improve the efficiency of gas powered generation. Some good discussion and links in the comments as well. (4 Sept 2009)
Update: there’s a much more in depth discussion of this idea on Salient White Elephant, and it doesn’t look promising unfortunately. (10 Sept 2012)