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HKS Authors

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Professor of Public Policy, HKS; Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics, SEAS


Interest in compressed air energy storage (CAES) technology has been renewed driven by the need to manage variability form rapidly growing wind and solar capacity. Distributed CAES (D-CAES) design aims to improve the efficiency of conventional CAES through locating the compressor near concentrated heating loads so capturing additional revenue through sales of compression waste heat. A pipeline transports compressed air to the storage facility and expander, co-located at some distance from the compressor. The economics of CAES are strongly dependent on electricity and gas markets in which they are embedded. As a case study, we evaluated the economics of two hypothetical merchant CAES and D-CAES facilities performing energy arbitrage in Alberta, Canada using market data from 2002 to 2011. The annual profit of the D-CAES plant was $1.3 million more on average at a distance of 50 km between the heat load and air storage sites. Superior economic and environmental performance of D-CAES led to a negative abatement cost of -$40/tCO2e. We performed a suite of sensitivity analyses to evaluate the impact of size of heat load, size of air storage, ratio of expander to compressor size, and length of pipeline on the economic feasibility of D-CAES.


Safaei, Hossein, and David Keith. "Compressed Air Energy Storage with Waste Heat Export: An Alberta Case Study." Energy Conversion and Management 78 (February 2014): 114-124.