This New Tech Could Revolutionize How We Store Renewable Energy

In a world in desperate need to go carbon-free, solar, wind, and renewables are the future. But our present ability to store their excess energy falls short. In fact, most of the time, that power goes missing. Of the many solutions swirling around, air—or rather, compressed air— seems to be sweeping some in the energy sector off their feet. Compressed air energy storage, or CAES, takes advantage of air’s ability to be stored in the form of elastic potential energy until we’re ready to use it. Lauded as a sustainable way to make renewables the world’s go-to energy source, this storage system could be the one we’ve all been waiting for. But we’re currently grappling with modernizing the world’s power grid. A major challenge is to make renewables reliable in every situation, not just on sunny, cloud-free days. These energy sources need to be “firmed,” meaning that they give energy on-demand. As of present, large-scale lithium-ion batteries are the most developed technology used to store and distribute this energy, and are already being readily adopted by renewable power sites across the globe. But as we probably all know by now, work remains to be done to prolong the lifespan of these batteries and make them less expensive. So as the search for long-duration storage solutions continues, what have we got so far? Well, one contender is compressed air storage. The technology is kind of like a giant version of the canned air that blows crumbs loose from your keyboard, except that instead of storing gases in liquid form, CAES involves converting electrical energy into high-pressure air, which is later released to drive a turbine. Theoretically, CAES could be a cheaper, more sustainable alternative to batteries. And since its based off technology that has long been used by the oil and gas industry, the foundational knowledge is there, ready to be worked on and improved. But there are a few things holding it back. Conventional CAES systems require having a place, like an existing or solution-mined rock cavern, that’s big and stable enough to store compressed air at a high pressure. This geographical limitation has meant that the technology can’t always live where grid needs are greatest. Then there’s the issue of conventional CAES systems not storing the thermal energy that’s generated during charging. As air is compressed, it heats up, and as air expands, it cools down. If the thermal energy generated during compression isn’t stored, a large chunk of energy during charging is lost to the atmosphere. To circumvent this problem, conventional CAES systems heat the air prior to expansion by burning natural gas, which not only deteriorates the system’s efficiency but seems utterly pointless if we want a greener system. For these reasons, CAES hasn’t taken off—there’s actually only been two plants built to date. But the Canadian company Hydrostor still thinks that renewables and CAES— or rather, what they call “Advanced” CAES—make a perfect pair. While their core idea is nothing new, their approach is different. Rather than relying on salt caverns to store air like conventional CAES systems, Hydrostor can also use hard-rock caverns, which can be built at practically any site. Using subsurface caverns that are connected to a ground-level water reservoir, compressed air is sent down to the cavern to be stored, displacing water up a shaft to the reservoir. When there’s a power need, water is allowed to flow back into the cavern, forcing the compressed air back to the facility. This technique improves the system’s efficiency and reduces the amount of space needed to store the compressed air. It also means that the system can be deployed near places where energy is most needed, like cities. And to avoid those pesky thermal energy losses? Hydrostor’s technology stores the heat generated during charging and reintroduces it to the air prior to discharge, eliminating the need to burn gas altogether. A Hydrostor plant can currently recover about 6 units of electricity for every 10 that it stores. That’s about a 60% efficiency—significantly better than the 40% of traditional CAES systems. While work remains to be done, Hydrostor already has a 1MW demonstration facility up and running in Toronto, Ontario, and their 2MW commercial contracted facility in Goderich, Ontario was just completed. They’re now bidding to expand out with much larger projects— ranging in capacity from 20-500MW—in the U.S., Canada, Chile, and Australia. So will Hydrostor’s take on CAES be the storage technology that renewables need to kick fossil fuels for good? Time and investment in the tech will soon tell whether the idea behind compressed air storage is just a bunch of hot air, or a system that will let us draw from 100% renewables, 100% of the time. For more innovative tech like this, check out this video on a company that’s capturing carbon and storing it underground. If you liked this episode, let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to subscribe for more Seeker and thanks for watching.

100 comments on “This New Tech Could Revolutionize How We Store Renewable Energy”

  1. Seeker says:

    Hi Seekers, thanks for watching! Want more Elements? Check out our playlist here:

  2. Rick Knight says:

    If you look at the drawing, it still requires power in. So something to compress the air, again making it pointless.

  3. Mike Solomon says:

    greeting! sweetie! !! lol for standing up for what you think of it, and what it is always what it will be. keep smiling with lol politely

  4. David Caldwell says:

    Fusion Reactors are the Future. Clean, Safe, and Cheap Energy. Renewable energy is a stopgap measure.

  5. AnalystPrime says:

    Pro: This is very simple tech, needs no rare elements, should require relatively little maintenance, and can be used in more places than hydro power.
    Con: Needing to buy or dig large caverns means large start up costs, and if they are only taking megawatt scale storage instead of gigawatts it is not big enough.
    Anyways, doesn't matter how good nuclear reactors someone is building in thirty years, we will still need energy storage too and this apparently can be built now. I'm just worried about how big caverns you need to store useful amounts of power and how much output it can deliver.

  6. Dreamtreater says:

    I'm distracted by that there is no detail in her face. Please get rid of that filter

  7. kuluki Heiwajima says:

    what about the mechanical battery?

  8. Jonathan Orosco says:

    If you're serious about reversing climate change nuclear power is the real solution.

  9. garymun420 says:

    How about we just go wireless free transmission of electricity all over the world Nikola Tesla figured it out in the1800s why can't we figure out his technology now and adopt it all over the world everything that is not free energy is costly it will never be renewableunless you have the money to renew the batteries or the solar panels or the turbines for the windmills the only way to have renewable free energy is to go with Nikola Tesla's idea a wireless transmission of energy homeowners would pay a one-time fee to have their wireless receiver box installed do receive the wireless signal sort of like a Wi-Fi signal except it gets transformed into usable electricity boom figure it out

  10. Carl Carrano says:

    Why not compress air in a tank full of water. Then discharge the water when needed to turn a turbine? Also I can’t see either way as efficient. You need energy to power a compressor where as a battery, the energy just goes in

  11. Jonathan says:

    why go through all the effort when you could just build a dam?

  12. Graham X says:

    Around 4:19 she talks about energy storage in terms of megawatts. Is this an mistake? Shouldn't they be rated in MWh?

  13. Mark Bernier says:

    first light energy in uk.

  14. MTAS says:

    1st time hearing of this, what about the huge towers, the Energy Vaults?

  15. Jason Lyu says:

    Nuclear storage is the best. We need to find a nuclear reaction that can be reversed and store a lot of energy.

  16. epiccollision says:

    We have gravity storage already it’s cheap reliable and nearly infinite it’s called water and a dam…..

  17. Yellow Stain says:

    Ohhh the canned air is for blowing crumbs from my keyboard. That makes more sense now

  18. Bernie is the Boss says:

    This appears to be total bullshit, temp rising is only a function of the air reducing its volume, no mechanical energy is lost into "heating" the air, that just happens naturally when the volume of air is reduced, as a consequence the temp will rise as a proportion of reduction, so if a volume of air is reduced by 50% then temp will rise 50%, has nothing to do with the "work" needed to compress the air. If you consume 10,000 watts of energy to compress air you should be able to extract 9,000 watts or more of that energy back out.

  19. Wis zak says:

    I still didn't get it, why they used to heat gas before compressing it into ground?

  20. David Ball says:

    I would love to make a system for my own home that can store excess summer solar and deliver constant power throughout the winter. All that's stopping me is the fact I don't know how to build such a thing yet.

  21. Public Service Announcements PSA's says:

    All seeker is, is propaganda to legitimize lefty ideas. In order to propagate tax funding to these fraud ideas.

  22. Mihai says:

    What about gravity storage ???
    More efficent.

  23. Koothodil Abhijith Augustine says:

    Doesn't she look like Dominic dePerro from Mr Robot?

  24. Matthew Connor says:

    Instead of focusing on storage to match production to demand, what if we focused on demand shifting to match demand to production? Thermal storage is the easiest solution for most homes/small business. Have water heaters soak up extra power from wind/solar for later use and have HVAC chill/heat a mass that the air handler/pumps can use as needed. Do that and a small solar + Li-ion could meet most of a home's power requirements and be more resilient too.

  25. Conrad Devigne says:

    We dont need to be carbon free. We never did. Carbon proliferates green vegetation growth and saying otherwise is beyond ridiculous. Lower the carbon in the atmosphere and we lower green plant growth which lowers the oxygen content. At the moment actually its indoctrinated beliefs like the anti carbon bullshit that causes wars over nothing. We maybe should look at Tesla's concepts of world wide power from Schumann resonance in a large scale tesla coil tower AS HE WAS building before it was ripped down by the power companies desperate controlling of the power grids. Soooooo …. yeah….

  26. MickyB Aus says:

    The company 1414 Degrees has interesting storage tech

  27. mr. vishal says:

    Hey guys check this out

  28. az stuff says:

    carbon free? lol.

  29. RavensEagle says:

    Thanks for the English sub captions .
    Just wish you put CAES in the video title or thumbnail.

    It's kinda not easy to find videos about CAES.

  30. Boyd Gilbreath says:

    It's only solar that doesn't work at night. Also, make stuff more efficient! If fossil fuels were only used at night, bam! instant reduction in fossil fuel use.

  31. Jan Paul Peters says:


  32. SingingintheDark says:

    why not just increase the efficiency of what we have so that it can function with less loss? this would reduce the emissions and make it green, why cant we just fix what we have to work better? also why not carbon batteries? they seem to work better than lithium for energy storage and are cheaper to make and contain no harmful chemicals. but 60% efficiency is not worth the effort or money. you lose nearly half of the work before it is even used.

  33. gacekky1 says:

    The term renewable energy makes no sense… theres a thing called entropy stopping any form of energy from becoming "renewable".

  34. LUCKY DREAM says:

    Talking head

  35. realperson.dll says:

    Stop bobbing your hands up and down.
    It's distracting.

  36. Clinton N says:

    Then the town environmental agent will call your lake a vernal tide pools and you won't be able to work on your property with anything more than hand tools outside an buffer idea please .

  37. Tom G. says:

    I helped build, license, startup, operate and shutdown or retire a two unit Gen III nuclear plant. But as much fun as it was I just can't see their usefulness going forward. Doesn't make any difference if it is a Gen III or Gen iV plant, a High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor, a Thorium Molten Salt Reactor or even a Small Modular Reactor. And it has nothing to do with no one wanting one in there backyard or how safe a Gen IV reactor can be or how wonderful and abundant Thorium fuel might be. It is all about the money.

    The money to build, operate and clean up the radiological waste that just happen as the result of using nuclear power. You know the daily radioactive waste clean up from leaking valves or pump seals or even the basic stuff like doing the laundry of workers who must work on radioactive plant components. But there is something almost no one can control and that is the cost.

    You can spend about $2 to $25 billion dollars build a plant. You will process your way through thousands upon thousands of cubic yards of concrete mix all while producing CO2. You will install miles upon miles of copper wiring and control systems costing millions of dollars. And of course you are going to spend billions of dollars to hire the electricians, pipefitters, welders, ironworkers and engineers to run the plant and those people don't come cheap. Figure it will take about 100-300 workers to run each unit of a two unit nuclear plant. Doesn't make much difference which type of plant you want to talk about it just takes about that many people. You are either doing design changes, making the plant more efficient, working with regulatory agencies, cleaning up spills or just fixing stuff. Now take those above number of 100-300 workers per UNIT and multiply that by about $40.00/HOUR. Pretty sizeable amount of money isn't it for the daily operation of a plant that is only about 35% efficient. Yes that is true, most nuclear plants usually burn up about 3 BTU's of heat energy for every 1 kWh of electricity produced. They are not very efficient but don't blame that on the type of reactor. Oh sure there is some heat loss in the process but we are also dealing with thermal dynamic principles. You lose efficiency in every pump, every heat exchanger, every turbine and every electric motor in the plant and you even have to consider the heat loss in the wiring and pipes that carry the steam and condensate water back to the reactor to be reused. And while I am very concerned about all of wasted BTU's of heat energy we are dumping into our lakes and streams that is just another part of the puzzle to be solved. And of course you lose more power transmitting the power to where it is needed. Now the alternatives; Wind, Water and Solar and yes they are all intermittent but lets look at just one example.

    About 6 months ago the wife and I were on our way to Vegas by car for a little entertainment. We were about 20 miles South of Henderson, NV when I noticed a huge field of solar panel. As a retired public utility employee I just had to stop and find out how the system was working. I drove into the facility, pulled up to the gate and rang the bell. A young man came out of a small building and we shared some of our common utility experiences. I finally go around to asking him how many workers were at this solar site and he said just one, himself. I asked him how much power the solar plant could produce and he said on a good day about 500 megawatts. Now that is more than a small modular reactor but less than one average sized two unit plant. But here is the kicker – he said he was only there to do a small repair. He said NO ONE was normally at the plant and it was controlled from a central dispatching office. This really wasn't news to me being a utility worker but for almost everyone else who happens to read this posting it is an important part of our energy policy.

    Solar power turns itself on when the sun comes up in the morning and shuts itself down when the sun sets. No USNRC trained and licensed operators are needed. No low pressure and high pressure safety injection pumps are needed. And certainly no separation of spent nuclear fuel is needed from some liquid like a molten salt. And we don't have to store containers or casks of spent fuel all around the country waiting for our government to come up with some way to dispose of our nuclear waste products or to fix leaking containers at some Hanford, WA waste disposal storage facility. We can easily control the amount of output from that solar plant from a central location. In fact one employee can do the job for several solar facilities instead of the hundreds it takes to run a nuclear plant and those workers cost thousands of dollar a day. And wind energy is about the same. When the wind blows and it is usually blowing somewhere at some point in time someplace in North America. And water, yup you guessed it about the same. When it is raining you are getting a free fuel delivery. Just open a valve and watch a turbine produce power.

    So I don't see much hope for nuclear going forward. It is just too expensive to build, too expensive to operate and too expensive to clean up after someday. I only see renewables in our future and they have already proven they are safer, more cost effective and more environmentally friendly. Hopefully after reading this very long posting you also come to the same conclusion or at least have a much better understanding of WHY renewable are what we need to focus on.

    Thank you and have a wonderful day.

  38. AyunaAni says:

    I think people should know that nuclear power is the real energy for the future.

  39. PTLANS says:

    Respectfully, it is pronounced God-er-rich but the locals pronounce it God-ridge or God-rich.

  40. AscendedSaiyan3 says:

    It sounds like you need lithium ion batteries, then. We know who makes the cheapest and longest lasting batteries.

  41. Mr Koala says:

    I thought you were gonna talk about pumping water into dams. That’s surely more efficient than CAES

  42. SAHM says:

    I have actually done research on CAES. It has good potential, but it's still far from marketable.

  43. Peter Dawes says:

    There are more efficient energy storage systems available that don't rely on large infrastructure systems which could be better utilised for other purposes. Compressed air is also very dangerous as any leak can be explosive or puncher flesh.
    As for carbon capture, you can't beet growing trees. Storing CO2 means you're also storing twice as much Oxygen as you are carbon and we need Oxygen to breath.

  44. David Elliott says:

    CASE is not efficient because air (or any gas) heats when compressed and chills when decompressed. It’s what drives a refrigerator.
    The question as to why is the only proven zero CO2 energy source being ignored is easy. It’s expensive – very expensive. Though it is extremely safe.
    Bit no longer We now have low cost modular nuclear which solves all of the reasons to not have the old nukes. And it automatically load-follows. It can fill in around renewables at no loss of efficiency. It even burns the high level waste from the old nukes.
    What’s not to like?

  45. grindupBaker says:

    No energy/efficiency/density statistics provided but otherwise interesting because I've never heard of that energy storage before. I don't think I'll do the calculations myself because I'm tired of doing the calculations myself for everything that I hear about. Ontario Hydro One claims our 12-hour night generation is 100% nuclear fission & hydroelectric so I simply leave the oven & electric heaters on all night & cycle the water tank thermostat. Low tech. Can I get a Trudeau grant for that ?

  46. Muslim Alarabi says:

    We are sold lies all along with air… Real renewable energy is electromagnetic; produced on the spot with no need to storage at all.

  47. Brad Jordan says:

    Best solution is nuclear plants, powering desalination and massive water pumps to inland hydro power reservoirs, which have the added benefit of fresh water availability for use in farming and drinking. Banked potential energy AND essentials for life. You could green all of Australia with a dozen such systems.

  48. AnalystPrime says: This video from half a year ago describes exact same 'new" tech except it is a British company of different name doing it…

    I find that video better quality too, and it shows nicely what the plant actually looks like above ground, it is actually smaller than I expected.

  49. Goku supersaiya says:

    my country use pikachu to store electric energy. this is more effective technology for next decade

  50. GroovyVideo2 says:

    Boring Company to the rescue

  51. jabzilla21 says:

    5 seconds in and you already failed. Nuclear is obviously the superior choice and you can't event put it on the list. SIGH Seeker you can do better.

  52. Chris T says:

    Commercial commercial..

  53. joe rush says:

    Kind of like the air powered car. Comprossed air car.

  54. John says:

    There are some manufactures that needs gas, and cannot use 100% renewable.
    Like to make glass. Where you need thousands of degrees of heat. Or to melt steel. You need gas for that. Renewables will not be able to melt those.

  55. Stanley McOmber says:

    ‘What we have so far?” Nuclear, we have it now and we would stop dismantling them but build them we would billions of Kwatts that will last us for thousands of years. The efficiency still beats all other energy methods.

  56. Lucas Rodmo says:

    So Dilma Rousseff was just being ahead of her time?

  57. Custis Standish says:

    I usually don't read or watch science presentations. This is interesting. New technology with a foundation in old technology. Renewable energy that does not seem to create other environmental problems, like wind and solar. Good for the Canadians. Well done Seeker and Elements.

  58. Robert Rosenthal says:

    "they capture and store the heat"

  59. billy the dead says:

    That's just a cool idea

  60. Doctor Pex says:

    Accumulation lake is still best storage.

  61. Mindaugas Vaskevicius says:

    Pumped hydro… At least 80% efficiency, used world wide, nothing new.

  62. Gadolini Rutherfordium says:

    Did you know that the majority of society is still steam powered?

  63. MilesBellas says:

    The pleading edge of desperation in her voice is off putting.

  64. brixomatic says:

    Great. Waste a lot of Energy as heat from notoriously inefficient compression. How about redox flow batteries?

  65. Lajos Baranyi says:

    Renewables are humbug. Not understanding that tells you enough to skip this video.

  66. Dylan Monahan says:

    Why are we so obsessed with storing energy? It's almost as though no one has stopped to think that it might be more logical to draw energy on-demand directly from the environment. There is a practically infinite supply of dormant electrons literally just hanging around in the air waiting to manifest? It's already everywhere. The amplitude of our geomagnetic field is low, but it's our understanding of electricity that seems to be the obstacle. Maybe we don't need to distribute generated energy over long distances after all??? Doesn't sound very profitable though. What would we do with all consumable energy sources if we didn't need them? Ohhh yeah, everyone/everything except the profiteers of the energy industry would benefit. Mmm

  67. Alex La Ruffa says:

    Or you could just have two water reservoirs, one higher than the other and pump up water when you want to store energy and let it flow down over a turbine when you want to use it

  68. myownname myownlastname says:

    actual video content starts at 1:18

  69. Steve Wilcox says:

    THE ANSWER IS CALLED A TROMP ITS THOUSANDS OF YEARS OLD! It was shut down in 1935 and all books in libraries and colleges world wide were removed from circulation.

  70. Kite Mg says:

    Unfortunatelly the politicians are not intelligent enough to understand that 60% and even 40% efficency is much better than turning the solar panels / wind turbines off.

  71. SciFi Factory says:

    ….. That seems somewhat backwards to me.
    So they are pumping water up and down. Why not just add water turbines and forget about the air?

  72. DunnickFayuro says:

    I also like this liquid air storage thing another company is working on (forgot the name). We need all of these technologies if we're to go all green 🙂

  73. Material Witness says:

    Its all about the Inverter and its ability to respond to grid dispatch signals, and the needs of the grid. i e Frequency regulation . Any source of renewable requires that inversion. Nothing beats Bi-Direx, from Eguana Technologies. Need the source of power closest to the user. Internet of Energy will be a smart grid of micro grids or VPP Virtual Power Plants (Sonnen Community) or fleets of aggregated sources. Germany Smart grid studies waaaaaay ahead of Oil America. Just my 2 cents. Ocean Tankers must CHANGE

  74. Taylor Curtis Braz says:

    I think we should have big caverns of dry ice. Or you could have big caverns of cooled liquid air. And as it boils off, it would run turbine generators and also cool buildings during the summer. It would be just like another utility, a compressed line of air. It's the same thing they do with natural gas storage. They store the natural gas in underground reservoirs.

  75. Austin Moss says:

    Pretty sure C02 emissions are higher the longer battery powered vehicles have to travel.

  76. Fuseteam says:

    Using Compressed Air to Store Energy
    Using CASE…….my likey

  77. Rasmus Pedersen says:

    More upspeak please. It's not annoying at all

  78. Rishikesh Ingle says:

    Solar energy is free real estate.

  79. CUBETechie says:

    Dual Fluid reactors and then fusion are the future.

  80. benis says:

    just hold the sun bro

  81. Anonymous bub says:

    Y’all we have ten years to fix the climate mess let’s do this!

  82. So_Uncivil1zed FPS says:

    nuclear fusion and fission is the future, solar and wind is garbage.

  83. B. James Maher says:

    Background music as annoying, and not needed.

  84. Roberto Fabikann says:

    Gravity is a nice option as well…. Store Energy in potential energy…. excess energy is used to lift a giant block of concrete with electric motors. when energy is needed, just let the block "fall", turning the motor into a generator. there are already gravity driven LED lamps out in the wild – just needs to be perfected and upscaled…

  85. Daniel Pope says:

    Solar and wind are the future?!? No hun, they are not… open a book.

  86. Glen Risk says:

    Waste of time. The problem is that there are too many people. Without changing that nothing will help.

  87. Zephod Beeblebrox says:

    Massive energy loss from compressing air then using a turbine to convert that air to electricity.

  88. BJ700 says:

    Another FAD

  89. J W says:

    Carbon free? Haha.. ya right

  90. Justin Moore says:

    Storing it underground could solve the problem with having to cover the entire surface of the earth with storage tanks…..

  91. ArthursHD says:

    60% ain't enough – it drives up cost just like batteries. Pumped hydro does ~80% and isn't more pricy.
    Cutting demand, flexible demand can help as well.
    On demand biogas cogeneration, waste cogeneration plants could help, so batteries are souly used for immediate grid stabilization.

  92. spliffworks says:

    Storing compress air underground? Are you not worried about malfunction and underground explosions, and could this cause earthquake? Is it as risky as fracking, sounds as troublesome to me, I wouldn't trust it

  93. Keaton McMahon says:

    bla bla bla 60% energy recovery, why not pressurize a liquid nitrogen storage tank, but make it really big. use metal 3D printing like on the musk rockets to build it. easy peezy. high temperature storage tank surrounded by a vacuum very little energy lost. comes down to your pump efficiency/turbine efficiency. High initial cost but infinity reusable assuming high quality stainless steel and brush-less electric pumps/turbines.

  94. Lucien86 says:

    The real scale of capacity needed? For the UK alone for full grid backup about 1400 to some 7,000 Terajoules.
    If the containment fails that's about 340 Kilotons to 1.7 Megatons in explosive yield.
    Those figures don't really change if you store the energy as compressed air, in batteries, as chemical reactants, etc.
    Not something comfortable to live next to.

  95. Vipusan Karvannathasan says:

    Goderich, not Goderick – Bruce County Locale

  96. Triadne Jessica says:

    surely we could use the excess energy to run refrigeration units for AC? in the winter, the power could be stored by compressing air in residential areas, and then in summer that energy can be released from the residential units to provide power when demand is high. on the other hand, in winter, the power for high demand times, can be drawn from units that are not in residential areas and in summer, the storage of the power goes to non residential areas. it's an efficient way to move thermal mass from one place to another in a way that is useful to us.

    edit: and if we use global energy networks, we can transfer warmth from homes in one hemisphere to homes in the other hemisphere while storing this electricity.

  97. Junker Harke says:

    This seems a solution:

  98. engineer12v says:

    This is stupid….

  99. PeachesCourage says:

    This is something I thought of a long time ago however I won't make claim to it due no money – and well no real proof I alone came up with it too just not enough money Anyway an old thread sewing machine as an example now the paddle is pushed by the needle which becomes a pole to do so ( there are other ways too) Anyway weighted appropriately it can be many many things such as an non manual water pump put between to bikes and a mechanical engine for the bikes ( if done the correct way ) a fan a camping washing machine etc I do not have money to do anything with this – you can do this for yourself if necessary

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