Hydrostor: Finally, economic grid-scale storage

Low cost energy storage is critical to expanded global renewable deployment. It’s the ‘memory’ of the emerging smartgrid, eliminating renewables’ intermittency. Some jurisdictions — Ontario, Germany, California — have aggressive energy storage targets. But its value proposition is complicated by the many functions (fast-response vs time shifting, grid/distribution/home-scale, transportable vs site-specific) and technology options (batteries, flywheels, compressed air, pumped hydro). We sought a grid-scale storage solution, that doesn’t need subsidies, with minimal technology risk.

In early 2013, we led an initial round into Hydrostor . Hydrostor is building the world’s first grid-connected, commercially contacted, underwater compressed air energy storage (UWCAES) system in Aruba, and a demonstration plant (backed by SDTC and IDF) for Toronto Hydro in Canada. Both are multiple MWh scale.

Hydrostor stores energy in the form of compressed air in low-cost modular underwater cavities (energy), driven by electrically-powered compressors and highly efficient expanders (power). Heat-exchangers increase system efficiency. Technology risk is minimized with off-the-shelf equipment, but market advantage is secured through an umbrella of process and construction patents. Partners include world-leading engineering, marine construction, utility, and manufacturing companies. See here for an instructive video.

The Aruba system will demonstrate the highly disruptive value proposition that renewables plus storage can beat diesel as dispatchable (or even base-load) power. Aruba has partnered with Richard Branson’s Carbon War Room in ambitious plan to go carbon free by 2020; Hydrostor’s initial installation will store wind power at night and release it during the day.

The Toronto system will demonstrate the economic benefits of lowering peak demand in a congested urban core using UWCAES, in place of natural gas peaking plants or increased transmission capacity.

Both the Aruba and Toronto systems will serve to catalyze our fast-growing pipeline of opportunities.

CEO Curtis Van Walleghem has a strong history of large energy project management at Deloitte. We look forward to continuing to support Hydrosor’s aggressive growth strategy.

Originally posted Jan 2, 2014 on the ArcternVentures.com