Second CAES Facility to be Built in U.S.

The Apex Bethel Energy Center will be the second CAES facility of its kind to be built in the United States.

Dresser-Rand received a project award earlier this year from Apex Compressed Air Energy Storage, LLC to supply equipment for a new 317 MW compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility being constructed near Tennessee Colony, Texas in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) market.

The Apex Bethel Energy Center will be the first CAES facility to be built in the United States since the PowerSouth facility was commissioned in McIntosh, Alabama in 1991. Dresser-Rand designed and supplied the entire turbomachinery train and controls for the PowerSouth facility.

According to Jack Farley, President and CEO of Apex, “In our evaluation of potential suppliers, it became clear that Dresser-Rand was the supplier with the most proven technology and experience to meet our performance requirements and maximize our project returns. The flexibility of SMARTCAES™ technology makes Dresser-Rand a clear choice to provide the equipment and life cycle services. They have a unique cycle and equipment design that has proven itself over 22 years of successful CAES operations.”

“We are very pleased to introduce the SMARTCAES technology and to be working with Apex to bring this exciting technology to market. We believe we are on the cusp of the re-emergence of the use of this environmentally-friendly power generation technology,” said Jim Heid, senior vice president, CAES development for Dresser-Rand.

A CAES system provides two different services either sequentially or concurrently — high-pressure air compression and electric power generation derived from expanding the compressed air. Industry sources estimate that there are more than 40 such projects being contemplated over the next five to 10 years. A number of these potential projects are linked to growth in renewable power generation sources such as wind and solar farms.

Wind farms typically generate more electricity at night, when there is already a surplus. The ability to “bottle” electric energy for daytime use is an attractive option. Within the solar market, electricity from photo-voltaic farms in sunny regions can be transmitted to facilities that use SMARTCAES equipment in other areas, where turbines would generate electricity around the clock.

“The flexibility of this cycle provides industry-leading dispatch flexibility and low cost, in compliance with air emissions requirements over an expansive operating range. We believe this contract will be the start of a long-term, successful relationship with Dresser-Rand for this project and others to come, both in the US and elsewhere around the world,” Farley adds.

“This project validates the view that the value of large energy storage in the form of CAES is a viable economic investment. As explained over the past several years, we have been working with numerous clients to support their research of this bulk storage option. This order from Apex affirms the value proposition of CAES,” said Dresser-Rand President and CEO, Vincent R. Volpe Jr.

The compression and expansion trains for the Bethel Energy Center will be manufactured at Dresser-Rand’s New York State-based facilities in Olean and Wellsville. The project scope also includes transporting the equipment to the Texas site, testing, placing the equipment into operation, and training.

Tags: CAES, Power Generation, Renewables, SmartCAES

other articles from insights issue Autumn / Winter 2013