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Ridge Energy Storage (RES) is moving forward on a fairlylarge-scale power project that will incorporate the rarelyimplemented process of using compressed air storage to produceelectricity. Ridge has entered into an exclusive arrangement withTexas Brine Company LLC (TBC) to develop up to 10 of theseprojects, with potential capacity to produce up to 600 MW each, ata number of Texas Brine’s brine production sites along the GulfCoast.
“You’re essentially taking existing power capacity at night,running it at a higher capacity factor, utilizing that electricalenergy to run motor drives on compressors that compress air up to areasonably high pressure, over 1,000 pounds, and then putting itinto the salt cavern just like you do natural gas,” said RidgePresident Rodney Webb. “Then you bring the high-pressure air outduring the day, heat it and take it through an air turbine and usenatural gas with it to operate a conventional combustion turbine.”It’s a tool to arbitrage power, he said, in which cheap power ispurchased during off-peak nighttime or weekend hours, thenconverted into compressed air and stored until it can be convertedback into power through a modified gas turbine during peak demandperiods and sold onto the wholesale market.
Each of the proposed plant sites has access to natural gaspipelines, high voltage transmission and ample supplies of freshwater. The agreement places emphasis on operations in the southernU.S. where there is a substantial difference in the demand forelectrical power between day and night.
Because most of the Texas Brine sites have existing saltcaverns, the RES/Texas Brine agreement enables the facilities to bebuilt quickly and efficiently, and will provide a desirablealternative to less efficient peaking plants in order toaccommodate the region’s growth in energy usage, the companiessaid. In the event a new cavern needs to be constructed, TexasBrine will provide customers for the brine.
The concept produces electricity with emissions reductions ofover 60% compared to plants of similar size, according to Ridge. Inaddition, the plants use only about 50% of the natural gas requiredby other combustion turbine configurations to produce a kilowatt-hour of electrical power.
RES plans to begin its first project by year-end 2000 and tostart operation in 2002. By year-end 2004, RES anticipates that itwill have up to seven plants totaling more than 2,000 MW inoperation or under construction. RES has acquired exclusive rightsto additional sites in the U.S. and England.
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