General Compression, a Massachusetts-based company founded in 2006, is developing a technology to provide massive energy storage to the electric power grid. Storage systems like this are essential to capture renewable energy sources during times of day when the demand for electricity is low and release it when needed. Systems of adequate capacity are rare and typically very expensive.
The technology developed by General Compression (GC) uses excess electricity from either solar or wind to compress air into specially constructed salt caverns deep underground. Man-made caverns like this are used throughout the world for storing natural gas and petroleum reserves because of their safety and low cost per volume to manufacture.
The heat produced by the air compression process is captured using a proprietary method and stored in a pool of warm water. When electricity is needed, the air is released back through the compressor (now functioning as an expander) driving a generator and producing electricity. The warm water from the thermal pool is used to heat the air as it expands. Our process is clean and efficient since no fuel is burned to put electricity back onto the grid.
A full-scale prototype storage system is successfully operating in Gaines Texas and the company is currently preparing for the next installation.