ADELE – Adiabatic compressed-air energy storage (CAES) for electricity supply


Storing electricity safely, efficiently and in large amounts – that is one of the greatest challenges for the power supply of the future. RWE Power, General Electric, Züblin and DLR are facing this task in the ADELE project. The idea behind ADELE Adiabatic CAES for the electricity supply is to compress air at times of high electricity availability, to place the resulting heat in an interim heat-storage device and to inject the air into subterranean caverns. When electricity demand rises, this compressed air can be used to generate power in a turbine – while recovering the heat.

This adiabatic process, in which the heat of the compressed air is not lost, but remains in the process for use in power generation, differs from existing compressed-air storage facilities, above all when it comes to the much higher efficiencies (approx. 70%). Also, the heating process no longer uses natural gas. With a feasibility study the project partners have laid the basis for the ADELE development programme, which started in 2010.

The aim of the programme is to further advance the necessary components for the compressed air energy storage technology, and additionally to develop the basic concept for a first plant in a subsequent demonstration project in ADELE. The preferred site for this first demonstration plant is Stassfurt (Saxony-Anhalt) that is located in a region marked by wind energy use. The ADELE-Stassfurt project will have a storage capacity of 360 megawatt hours and an electric output of 90 megawatts. This enables ADELE-Stassfurt to provide substitute capacity at extremely short notice and replace up to 50 wind turbines of the type used in the region for a period of four hours. Altogether, the parties involved in the project are making available € 12 million for the ADELE development phase by 2013. They are supported by Germany’s Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) with funds from the COORETEC programme. ADELE will help provide peak-load electricity from renewables – completely without CO2 emissions.

In the initial one-year project phase, the conceptual work is to be advanced to such a point that the in-depth technical planning of the first intended demonstration plant at RWE's Staßfurt location can start in a next step, given that the economic prospects are good. All in all, the ADELE-ING project will run 3.5 years and has an overall budget of some 40 million euros.

On the basis of this project, the preconditions and prerequisites are to be worked out that are necessary in order to take an investment decision.

ADELE-ING forms part of the Federal Government's "Förderinitiative Energiespeicher" (Energy Storage Funding Initiative) and is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology. The preamble to "Förderinitiative Energiespeicher" highlights the outstanding strategic significance of an improved access to high-capacity, efficient and profitable energy storage facilities to Germany's future energy system. In this connection, large-scale, central adiabatic compressed-air energy storage facilities and distributed compressed-air energy storage facilities that apply different concepts to use the heat of compression are classified as the technology route for electrical energy storage facilities that is to be given development priority.

More information

Press release: RWE, General Electric, Züblin and DLR agree on cooperation for the development of a compressed-air energy storage facility

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