Although there are several LDES technologies, A-CAES offers distinct advantages, including the ability to flexibly locate and at a scale that will enable the large-scale displacement of fossil fuels in energy systems.

Long Duration Energy Storage
Long Duration Energy Storage

Q&A with Jon Norman, President | Hydrostor

Tell us about yourself and your company Hydrostor.

I've spent over 25 years in the power industry, management consulting, and government, enhancing my expertise in the energy sector. Currently, I am the President of Hydrostor, where we're developing long duration energy storage solutions globally. Before this, I held senior roles at Brookfield Asset Management, focusing on commercial development and regulatory policy across North America and Europe. My journey has led me to oversee Hydrostor's strategic growth, leveraging my experience in engineering and power markets to develop infrastructure projects that enable a reliable shift to a more sustainable energy future.

Hydrostor is at the forefront of developing and operating long duration energy storage systems globally. Our patented Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) technology allows grid operators and large energy users to draw on clean energy, even when wind and solar generation are not available. Our first project in Goderich, Ontario, is the world's first commercially contracted A-CAES facility that is contracted to the independent electricity system operator. With the successful completion and operation of Goderich, we are now focused on larger projects, with the most advanced being in Australia and California.  Our team is also progressing a pipeline that exceeds 5,000MW primarily in North America, Australia, and Europe that is focused on markets that have near-term needs for long duration energy storage (LDES).  As global LDES markets continue to evolve, Hydrostor’s A-CAES technology has worldwide applicability and is one of the key solution pathways to provide a critical decarbonization to the world.


Why is Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) important? 

Long duration energy storage, or LDES, is crucial for achieving net-zero targets while mitigating the impacts of climate change. As more renewables are added to the grid, replacing traditional energy generation resources such as coal and natural gas, we need reliable backup solutions for when the sun isn't shining, or the wind isn't blowing. While batteries are important, they can generally store power economically for up to four hours. LDES technologies like ours bridge this gap, storing power for 8 to 24+ hours, and shifting it to ensure that power is available during periods of low supply but high demand.

When it comes to addressing climate change and how we can achieve a low-carbon world, the discussion cannot ignore long duration energy storage, our bread and butter. LDES is critical infrastructure that will relieve the bottleneck in the deployment of clean power, and maintain grid reliability as intermittent generation (e.g., solar & wind turbines) displaces conventional fossil fuel power plants. A-CAES is positioned to increase the pace of decarbonized energy systems globally with a pipeline of projects and worldwide deployment potential that will enable the large-scale displacement of fossil fuels in energy systems.

What are the advantages of Hydrostor's LDES solution? 

Although there are several LDES technologies, A-CAES offers distinct advantages, including the ability to flexibly locate at large scale that is required to replace fossil-fired generating sources, coupled with a 50+ year lifetime that experiences zero efficiency degradation, all while achieving an emissions-free process.

Importantly, A-CAES is intentionally designed around existing supply chains and mature workforces from the hydrocarbon industry that means it is available commercially at-scale today, with performance guarantees. As a result, it is highly scalable, capable of powering hundreds of thousands of homes with a single facility. It also does not rely on hard-to-recover minerals and has a very low overall environmental footprint relative to alternatives.

Because we leverage existing supply chains, optimized for large-scale applications, our solution combines sustainability with scalability, making it an ideal choice for LDES needs worldwide.


What are the major hurdles that LDES has to overcome for long term viability?

I can’t stress enough the importance of overcoming regulatory and policy hurdles for LDES viability. We are very busy advocating for supportive policies, and long term planning that prioritize clean energy replacement of fossil generating sources, and directly incentivize the adoption of LDES technologies that are necessary to reliably move away from these polluting sources of energy.  It is important for grid planners to plan well-ahead given the longer development timeframes for many LDES projects, and set clear targets for deployment of LDES.

Additionally, a lack of transmission and the old age of related infrastructure poses challenges that prevent the growth of clean energy. As a result, we are actively identifying areas where LDES can operate as a non-wires transmission alternative, and working with regulators on fair treatment of storage assets to allow it to provide parallel energy market and transmission solutions in the best interest of electricity consumers.

Why is 8 hours of storage an optimal time range when it comes to Long Duration Energy Storage and Advanced – Compressed Air energy Storage?

Grid operators are looking to ensure balanced supply and demand of electricity at all times.  As traditional fossil generating sources are replaced by intermittent renewable sources, this necessitates longer duration storage in order to reliably replace this grid capacity.  As grids move down this pathway towards transitioning away from fossil fuels, grid operators have been specifically identifying 8 hours as a minimum duration threshold to provide reliable replacement capacity.  As such, 8+ hour storage capability readily provided by A-CAES is optimal for stabilizing the grid and managing fluctuations in demand. As we anticipate higher penetration of renewables, longer storage durations up to 24hrs+ across periods of low generation also becomes essential.  A-CAS is also well-positioned to provide these longer storage durations, particularly since it can cheaply expand its duration once in operation as grid needs continue to evolve. A-CAES is therefore an essential piece of infrastructure for future grid resilience.


Has this technology been shown to work at a large scale? 

Absolutely. Our A-CAES technology has proven its capabilities at a utility scale, demonstrated by our commercially-contracted Goderich A-CAES Facility, as well as the multi-decade precedent of compressed air energy storage more generally as a proven grid-scale asset. The proven operations of the Goderich facility as well as these extensive CAES precedents, in addition to our 2015 pilot facility with Toronto Hydro, demonstrates the performance of the A-CAES systems, its seamless integration with the grid and adherence to strict regulatory standards. These successful implementations prove the readiness of A-CAES for continued large-scale grid deployment, and form the basis of our global delivery partnerships, available performance guarantees, and highlight why we are backed by Goldman Sachs and Canada Pension Plan Investments, as their global play on LDES.  A-CAES readiness has also been demonstrated by our signing of the some of the world’s largest energy storage contracts by top-tier utilities in California and Australia, including the largest utility in Australia and the New South Wales government. 


What projects do you currently have in the pipeline? 

We're excited about our growing project pipeline, particularly the Silver City Energy Storage Centre, a 200 MW long duration energy storage project located in Broken Hill, NSW. Silver City is a game-changer for consumers, leveraging existing infrastructure and improving the accessibility, and continued growth, of renewable resources in the region. As part of Australia's rapid energy transition to achieve carbon emission reduction targets, Silver City will eliminate the need for major investments in expensive new transmission lines and reliance on polluting diesel generators. In December 2023, Silver City was awarded both a Network Service Agreement with Transgrid, and a Long-Term Energy Service Agreement (LTESA) from AEMO Services under the New South Wales government’s electricity infrastructure roadmap, marked significant progress for our Silver City project.

In California, we are advancing the Willow Rock Energy Storage Center, a 500 MW long duration energy storage project located in Kern County. This project is driving economic growth with its 50+ year lifetime, providing stable revenue streams for local communities. Willow Rock will directly convert California's solar and wind resources into reliable electricity for the greater Los Angeles region and the broader state grid. The project supports the delivery of dispatchable electrical capacity into the Los Angeles Basin and broader California grid, while ensuring reliable long duration storage capacity well into the future as long duration storage becomes increasingly important to reliably serve load. Additionally, Willow Rock will optimize the use of the existing transmission system, allowing a more efficient use of transmission lines to deliver reliable service and ensure new transmission is built where it’s most needed. The project will provide critical support for California to achieve its goal of reducing GHG emissions and achieving 100% carbon-free renewable electricity by 2045.

These projects are in addition to our near-term pipeline of more than 5,000MW of A-CAES project opportunities primarily in North America, Australia, and Europe that is focused on markets that have near-term needs for long duration energy storage (LDES).  As global LDES markets continue to evolve, Hydrostor’s A-CAES technology has worldwide applicability and is one of the key solution pathways to provide a critical decarbonization to the world, representing 10’s of thousands of MW’s of deployment potential for A-CAES as grids continue to decarbonize.


Look down the road a few years, where do you see LDES and how is Hydrostor involved.

Looking ahead, long duration energy storage will not be just another trend - but a vital component in the journey towards decarbonizing electricity grid globally.  Hydrostor is poised to lead this transition with our A-CAES technology, offering distinct advantages such as siting flexibility, minimal environmental impact, and long-term reliability. As we continue to expand our projects worldwide, we envision a future where LDES becomes synonymous with grid stability and sustainability, and Hydrostor remains at the forefront of this transformative journey.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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