A private equity group is bankrolling a project to hollow out a series of energy storage vaults from a massive salt deposit in the Utah desert in order to create a repository for storing energy. The idea behind the subterranean ‘battery’ is to fill the vaults with compressed air in order to generate power when the wind doesn’t blow. Compressed air isn’t the only storage item on the list: Salt Lake City-based Magnum Energy LLC plans to store natural gas and possibly liquid petroleum as well as carbon emissions sequestered from a neighboring coal-fired power plant.
To date, only two commercial-scale, compressed air power plants exist. One is in McIntosh, Alabama and one in Bremen, Germany. Other projects are under development in Norton, Ohio, and Ankeny, Iowa.