Australia’s first compressed air energy storage facility receives development approval

Angas Zinc Mine

South Australia is on track to expand its renewable energy projects with development approval received for an advanced compressed air energy storage (A-CAES) facility to be built at the Angas Zinc Mine near Strathalbyn.

Canadian company Hydrostor has received development approval to build the $30 million energy storage facility, with the project being supported by $3 million in funding through the South Australian Government’s Renewable Technology Fund and $6 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA).

The Angas A-CAES facility is the first of its kind in Australia and will use excess electricity from wind and solar to run a compressor and produce heated, compressed air that can be stored underground. The compressed air is released to drive a generator and produces electricity when demand in the electricity grid is high.

Hydrostor will repurpose the former Angas Zinc Mine at Strathalbyn into the 5MW/10MWh facility by transforming the existing mine into an air storage cavern 240m below ground using its innovative design to achieve emissions free energy storage.

Hydrostor Australia’s Managing Director, Greg Allen, said the technology works by using electricity from the grid to produce compressed air, which is stored in a purpose-built underground cavern kept at constant pressure using hydrostatic head from a water column.

“During charging, heat from the compressed air is collected and stored before the cooled air displaces water out of the cavern up to a water reservoir on the surface.

“To discharge, water flows back into the cavern forcing air to the surface under pressure where it is heated with the stored thermal energy and drives a turbine to generate electricity,” Mr Allen said.

Hydrostor is expecting around 40 jobs during the construction phase and a further four ongoing positions over the project’s 30-year lifespan.

Energy and Mining Minister, Dan van Holst Pellekaan, said Hydrostor’s facility is further evidence the State Government’s energy policies are helping deliver cheaper, cleaner and more reliable electricity to South Australians.

“This is another step in the transition of South Australia’s energy system by the integration of renewable energy into the grid to deliver cheaper, more reliable and cleaner energy.

“A-CAES is a new energy storage technology for Australia that provides synchronous inertia, load shifting and frequency regulation to support grid security and reliability.”

Trade Tourism and Investment Minister, David Ridgway, welcomed the benefits Hydrostor’s investment will deliver to the state and the local community.

“Hydrostor is the latest in a line of high profile, international renewables companies to set up operations in this state,” Mr Ridgway said.

“With 47 per cent of South Australia’s energy production now coming from renewable sources, our state is without doubt a major global player, and this is reflected in the $7 billion worth of investment we’ve attracted into the local industry.”

Hydrostor CEO, Curtis VanWalleghem, said the State Government approval enables them to now proceed into the construction phase of the Angas project.

“We’re excited to demonstrate the significant benefits of adding our emission-free storage solution, creating jobs and helping South Australia develop a stronger electricity grid at lower cost to consumers,” Mr VanWalleghem said.

With support from the Department for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Hydrostor has now set up an office in Adelaide as a result of this project.

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