Could compressed air energy storage scale?

GigaOM’s Katie Fehrenbacher reports that compressed air energy storage startup SustainX has produced a device capable of storing 1.6 megawatts. She writes:

The company…..said the device is the world’s first megawatt-scale (1.6 MW) isothermal compressed air energy storage hardware. While air energy storage tech is decades old, there’s a new generation of startups working on new innovations with this technology.

SustainX had already built out a 40 kilowatt air energy storage project at its headquarters in West Lebanon, New Hampshire, and other startups like General Compression and LightSail are working on similar tech. But reaching the megawatt-scale — there are 1,000 kilowatts in 1 megawatt — is important because it shows that the technology is getting closer to reaching commercial scale.

I haven’t heard of any compressed air systems approaching that level of scale. At that size, energy storage could reasonably be paired with a small solar array.

There’s no word on cost/megawatt for the storage device. I’m guessing it’s still much more expensive than lithium-ion battery storage, though as the tech scales up it’s bound to get cheaper. Relatively speaking.

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Adam Lesser

Cleantech Curator Gigaom Research

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