Ridge Inks Salt Cavern Deal for Power Projects
Ridge Energy Storage (RES) is moving forward on a fairly
large-scale power project that will incorporate the rarely
implemented process of using compressed air storage to produce
electricity. Ridge has entered into an exclusive arrangement with
Texas Brine Company LLC (TBC) to develop up to 10 of these
projects, with potential capacity to produce up to 600 MW each, at
a number of Texas Brine's brine production sites at salt caverns
along the Gulf Coast.
"You're essentially taking existing power capacity at night,
running it at a higher capacity factor, utilizing that electrical
energy to run motor drives on compressors that compress air up to a
reasonably high pressure, over 1,000 pounds, and then putting it
into the salt cavern just like you do natural gas," said Ridge
President Rodney Webb. "Then you bring the high-pressure air out
during the day, heat it and take it through an air turbine and use
natural gas with it to operate a conventional combustion turbine."
It's a tool to arbitrage power, he said, in which cheap power is
purchased during off-peak nighttime or weekend hours, then
converted into compressed air and stored until it can be converted
back into power through a modified gas turbine during peak demand
periods and sold onto the wholesale market.
Each of the proposed plant sites has access to natural gas
pipelines, high voltage transmission and ample supplies of fresh
water. The agreement places emphasis on operations in the southern
U.S. where there is a substantial difference in the demand for
electrical power between day and night.
Because most of the Texas Brine sites have existing salt
caverns, the RES/Texas Brine agreement enables the facilities to be
built quickly and efficiently, and will provide a desirable
alternative to less efficient peaking plants in order to
accommodate the region's growth in energy usage, the companies
said. In the event a new cavern needs to be constructed, Texas
Brine will provide customers for the brine.
The concept produces electricity with emissions reductions of
over 60% compared to plants of similar size, according to Ridge. In
addition, the plants use only about 50% of the natural gas required
by other combustion turbine configurations to produce a kilowatt-
hour of electrical power.
RES plans to begin its first project by year-end 2000 and to
start operation in 2002. By year-end 2004, RES anticipates that it
will have up to seven plants totaling more than 2,000 MW in
operation or under construction. RES has acquired exclusive rights
to additional sites in the U.S. and England.
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