Toronto-based Hydrostor announced it selected Kiewit Engineering Group to advance front-end engineering and design studies for the 500 MW / 4 GWh Willow Rock Energy Storage Center. Once completed, the project will be the largest standalone energy storage project in California.
The project will employ Hydrostor’s Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology. The company said its commercially proven equipment can provide affordable, large-scale, and emission free long-duration energy storage (LDES). The project will be capable of storing enough energy to provide power to 400,000 homes over an 8-hour duration, storing intermittent wind and solar energy.
Hydrostor’s technology features a four-step process for storing and dispatching energy. It first pulls off-peak or surplus energy from the grid, producing heated compressed air. Then, the heat is extracted from the air stream, and stored inside a thermal store, preserving the energy for later use. The compressed air is stored in a tank that uses a process called hydrostatic compensation to maintain constant pressure during operation. When the energy needs to be dispatched, pressure forces air to the surface, where it is then recombined with heat, and sent through a turbine, producing dispatchable electricity.
The company said its technology has a 50 + year system life, uses no toxic materials, is emissions-free, and can provide rotational inertia in support of grid stability.
“Hydrostor continues to reach important milestones at Willow Rock, and we look forward to working with the world-class engineering and construction teams at Kiewit to advance this critical clean energy project. Our global teams are paving the way towards achieving aggressive net-zero goals. Willow Rock will be capable of eliminating the equivalent of roughly 120,000 cars off the road every year over its 50+ year project life.” said Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s chief executive officer.
“Kiewit remains committed to engaging in the clean energy transition and recognizes that LDES solutions like A-CAES are a critical component of grid modernization. We look forward to commencing work on Willow Rock, which has the potential to abate significant emissions and provide a reliable, sustainable energy source for many decades.” said Kevin Needham, president of Kiewit Power Engineers.
This January, Hydrostor announced a preferred equity financing commitment of $250 million from Goldman Sachs Asset Management. Goldman Sachs will fund its investment in tranches tied to project milestones to match Hydrostor’s capital needs and accelerate project execution. The financing will also support the company’s global development and marketing initiatives, including expansion of its project pipeline and capabilities in markets with significant near-term demand for flexibly sited long-duration energy storage.
“As the world continues transitioning to sustainable and renewable energy sources, the need for utility-scale long-duration energy storage is clear, and Hydrostor’s A-CAES solution is well positioned to become a leading player in this emerging global market,” said Charlie Gailliot, partner and head of energy transition private equity investing within Goldman Sachs Asset Management.
In June 2021, the California Energy Commission said it would procure 1,000 MW of long duration energy storage, with duration of eight hours or longer, to be activated between 2026-2028.
LDES technologies are continuing to take stage in the climate discussion, with an international LDES council formed at the recent COP26 summit. The council projects a need for 85 to 140 TWh of global LDES by 2040 to meet decarbonization goals, which could entail an investment of $1.5 to $3 trillion.
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