Hot Air: A Real Solution For Renewable Energy Storage?

Nature is fickle, as they say, which leaves the nascent renewable energy industry with a problem: how to provide reliable juice 24/7, 360 days of the years, harnessing intermittent forces, such as wind and sunshine. Now, Phoenix, AZ-based Southwest Solar Technologies is developing the Compressed Air Energy Storage System, a promising technology that uses wind and solar to compress gas and then release it when needed.

According to Inhabitat, Southwest Solar’s Compressed Air Energy Storage System utilizes clean technology to pump heated and compressed air into an airtight chamber. Whenever there’s a high demand for electricity, that compressed air is released through a turbine to supply that demand–powered by solar energy during the day and wind at night.

image via Inhabitat

image via Inhabitat

The concept isn’t a new one, as Compressed Air Energy Systems currently exist in conventional power plants, one of which (in Alabama) has actually been in operation for a decade. But conventional plants compress and heat the air with natural gas or coal, which leaves a big dirty carbon footprint–whereas Southwest Solar Technologies is adopting the existing tech for the Green Age by using solar and wind.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.

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