Iowa Plant to Store Wind Power

Iowa’s municipal utilities announced plans Friday to build a $200 million power plant west of Dallas Center that will store wind energy in the ground and use it to generate up to 268 megawatts of electricity.

While construction on the plant won’t start for a couple of years (2009 with completion expected in 2011), here’s how it will work. Electricity will be generated by wind power farms at remote sites and will be carried over transmission lines to compressors at the new plant. The compressors pump air into the ground, where it’s stored under high pressure in the porous rock. Electricity will be created when the compressed air is released to drive turbines. The size of the plant is expected to generate 268 megawatts of electricity, and removes one of the criticism of wind power, that is, there’s no electricity generated when the wind isn’t blowing.

schematic of wind power storage plant

There’s currently two other wind storage plants operating – one in Germany and the other in Alabama. The Iowa plant will be about twice the size of the currently existing plants. The Iowa site consists of about 40 acres of farmland that has a porous rock structure about 3,000 feet below the surface and has the capacity to hold the compressed air that will be pumped into the ground.

For the full article plus a pictoral description of how it works, click the link above.

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