A: Low-cost electricity in times of over-supply will be used to compress ambient air into an underground cavern. When the pool price is high, indicating that there is insufficient supply in the Alberta power pool, the facility will be released into the natural gas generators.
Q: How much power will the ASISt project produce?
A: 160 MW during generation, and the cavern will have sufficient capacity to provide for 60 hours. This translates to 9600 MWh, or sufficient electricity to power Red Deer for 5 consecutive days.
Q: Is Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) safe?
A: Yes! Salt caverns have been used to store natural gas, oil and natural gas liquids for over 50 years. ASISt will be the first salt cavern facility in Alberta, and possibly Canada to store energy. Given the enormous opportunities to increase the viability of renewable energy, we believe CAES is not only the most benign form of energy storage available in Alberta, but will become an important component of the future of electrical generation in Alberta.
Q: What is the capital cost estimate?
A: Approximately $320 million (CAD)
Q: Where will the facility be located?
A: Near Lloydminister, which is approximately halfway between Saskatoon and Edmonton on Highway 16. Lloydminister is located on the Alberta-Saskatchewan border and has a population of approximately 30,000.
Q: Why Lloydminister?
A: Two Reasons:
The Geology is appropriate – independent analyses have shown that the salt formations are deep, pure and thick enough to build the caverns.
Lloydminister is a population centre allowing for the necessary expertise to operate the facility, while simultaneously providing access to both the Saskatchewan and Alberta power grids, allowing for interconnection capacity and arbitrage opportunities.
Q: How does ASISt “Enable” renewable energy?
A: ASISt will change the message about renewable energy. Traditionally, renewable energy provided a conundrum for regulators and governments – a choice between raising electricity costs due to a lack of baseload capacity; or do nothing and be beholden to non-renewable generation. ASISt will turn the ephemeral electricity from elusive zephyrs into baseload power.
Q: Does the project ASISt existing renewable energy generators?
A: Absolutely! By increasing the demand for electricity when wind turbines are running (wind turbines generation is highly negatively correlated with Alberta pool price), we will increase the amount that wind generators receive for their production. The graph below is from a University of Calgary paper that shows that, had ASISt been built, revenues for wind generators would increase by 12 to 25 %. (Source: University of Calgary 2015)
Q: How does CAES compare with other energy storage technologies?
A: In a word, favourably! Geological energy storage solutions such as pumped hydro and CAES are cheaper than electrochemical technologies ensuring that ratepayers aren’t soaked with exorbitant fees. (Source: EPRI 2010)
CAES is also more efficient. Stanford University studied various energy storage systems to come up with an “Energy Stored On Invested” or ESOI ranking which is how much energy can be stored over the lifecycle of the system divided by the energy required to build the storage system. The results showed that CAES is much more effective at storing energy than electrochemical systems. From an environmental perspective, this means that less energy is used to build the storage system and therefore, less energy is wasted. (Source: Energy Environ. Sci., 2013, 6, 1083–1092) Q: What’s the timeline on the project?
A: We plan to be fully operational in 2019 – you can see our timeline below: