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Iowa wind energy storage project scrapped

Iowa Stored Energy Park Agency director Bob Schulte said that geology tests found the storage reservoir wasn't suitable for the scale of project officials envisioned. Essentially, the quality of the storage rock, which would have been sandstone, wasn't as good as officials were looking for.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Plans to build a $400 million stored-energy park near Dallas Center have been scrapped after a report raised questions about its viability.

The proposed 270-megawatt, compressed air project would have taken wind energy at off-peak periods, compressed the air into an aquifer 3,000 feet below ground and brought it back to the surface during peak usage periods. Officials said the park's output would have been more than twice the size of the electric load of downtown Des Moines on a hot summer day.

Iowa Stored Energy Park Agency director Bob Schulte said that geology tests found the storage reservoir wasn't suitable for the scale of project officials envisioned. Essentially, the quality of the storage rock, which would have been sandstone, wasn't as good as officials were looking for.

"The permeability, that is the connectivity between the pores, is less than hoped for. You can't get air through it fast enough, or out of it fast enough — and that is the main problem with the geology," Schulte said.

The energy park's board of trustees met Thursday and canceled the project, which was set to open in 2015.

Schulte says officials... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

DES MOINES, Iowa — Plans to build a $400 million stored-energy park near Dallas Center have been scrapped after a report raised questions about its viability.

The proposed 270-megawatt, compressed air project would have taken wind energy at off-peak periods, compressed the air into an aquifer 3,000 feet below ground and brought it back to the surface during peak usage periods. Officials said the park's output would have been more than twice the size of the electric load of downtown Des Moines on a hot summer day.

Iowa Stored Energy Park Agency director Bob Schulte said that geology tests found the storage reservoir wasn't suitable for the scale of project officials envisioned. Essentially, the quality of the storage rock, which would have been sandstone, wasn't as good as officials were looking for.

"The permeability, that is the connectivity between the pores, is less than hoped for. You can't get air through it fast enough, or out of it fast enough — and that is the main problem with the geology," Schulte said.

The energy park's board of trustees met Thursday and canceled the project, which was set to open in 2015.

Schulte says officials are disappointed about the "geology cards that Mother Nature" dealt them roughly 1 million years ago. But Schulte added that the project gathered a great deal of information that can benefit other storage projects around the country that aren't so limited by geology.

Officials said that about $8.6 million has been spent on the Iowa Stored Energy Project so far. The majority of that funding came from the U.S. Department of Energy through its energy storage program, with additional support from the Iowa Power Fund for drilling and testing.

"The reason the Power Fund invested in the project was because it was the kind of developing technology that could be beneficial to the state of Iowa if it was proved out," Iowa Office of Energy Independence spokesman Don Tormey said.

John Bilsten, the board chairman of the Iowa Stored Energy Park Agency and general manager of Algona's municipal utility, said officials looked at sites just east of Fort Dodge and Stanhope, north of Ames. They settled on Dallas Center because they believed was the best site for the project.

"We knew that there was certainly a risk in the development of this project," Bilsten said. "All of the science, they proved that this wasn't going to be the correct site."

Though agency officials said the concept of the project and potential long-term economics were sound, the geological limitations specific to the Dallas Center site forced members to look at easier, less expensive and less risky conventional alternatives.


Source: http://moneywatch.bnet.com/...

JUL 29 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/31501-iowa-wind-energy-storage-project-scrapped
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