Bob Kraft, President & CEO
Sustainable renewable energy—powered by robust energy storage systems—is the greener energy future we all want. But it’s also the world’s biggest energy challenge because, until now, no cost-effective solution for grid scale energy storage has proven viable on a large scale. The transition to renewable energy sources and distributed energy systems requires a great deal of technological know-how and engineering expertise. However, many upstart renewable energy companies lack the depth of engineering expertise found at their traditional fossil fuel counterparts. Florida-based PowerPHASE believes finding a solution to the energy storage challenge requires a combination of vision and that deep engineering expertise. The company has now taken that vision to a new level its recently developed Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) Plant enabling grid scale energy storage of renewable sources.
Often, the focus is on optimizing fuel usage, when in fact, 98 percent of what goes through a gas turbine by mass is air. PowerPHASE’s flagship modular air injection system, Turbophase, enables gas turbines to produce more power efficiently while increasing grid operational flexibility. Turbophase restores the mass airflow that is naturally missing by injecting air into the compressor discharge, and this result in less power required per pound of air compressed compared to the axial compressor in a gas turbine. “Gas turbines upgraded with Turbophase provide 10-20 percent more output and a significant increase in efficiency,” states Bob Kraft, president and CEO of PowerPHASE.
PowerPHASE’s recent innovation is FastLight—a suite of energy storage products. With the help of FastLight solutions, existing combustion turbine power plants can turn into green energy storage depots. One of FastLight’s integral proprietary technologies—The Storage Engine™—is a flexible and cost-effective version of the traditional compressed-air energy storage (CAES) plant. It utilizes a modified gas turbine (new or repowered) where the compression process is replaced with off-base electric and fuel-driven Turbophase compressors.
The Storage Engine’s™ storage mode captures excess electrical energy and stores it in the form of compressed air in cylinders. The discharge mode generates 90 to 400 MW for the desired hours. Storage and discharge periods can be extended by expanding the storage volume.
“The unique feature of the Storage Engine™ is that it functions as a peaking gas turbine by dispatching a series of electrical and fuel driven Turbophase compressors when the stored compressed air has run out,” states Kraft. Moreover, The Storage Engine™ can be used to release the stored compressed air, supplying megawatts of power quickly to the grid. Considering this distinctive functionality, the fuel driven Turbophase Module can also be configured to double as a standby generator. PowerPHASE’s energy storage modules have a small footprint and only require a quarter of the CAPEX compared to batteries on a kilowatt-hour basis. At a 1/10 to 1/20 the cost of batteries on a Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) over a 30 year lifetime, The Storage Engine™ proves to be more beneficial than battery storage solutions with its long term energy storage capabilities.
To this extent, following the vision of a greener environment, PowerPHASE’s products do not rely on chemicals and are designed to be deployed off the shelf. PowerPHASE’s solutions help increase the efficiency of the power grid, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and save hundreds of millions per year in savings. The Storage Engine™ operates within the same emissions permit at existing plants, however delivering twice the amount of energy.
PowerPHASE is working with companies in the utility sector, and most notably, the company is negotiating contracts with an Australian Utility for several projects aimed at solving the problem of intermittent power generation from renewable sources. Initially, there were plans to set up peaker plants to prevent blackouts, but the Australian Utility decided to also leverage PowerPHASE’s solutions. As solar energy accounts for a substantial part of the power supply, the load drops off during the day and leads to negative power prices. Unfortunately, the continent mostly relies on coal-powered generators, which are more difficult to turn off and restart. The Storage Engine™ offers a superior alternative to those coal-powered peaker plants.
Moving ahead, PowerPHASE has plans to enter a strategic partnership with a global company that has the capability to deliver extensive energy storage projects. One of PowerPHASE’s goals is to introduce The Storage Engine™ and its other unique energy storage technologies among leading energy providers around the globe in 2020. Undoubtedly, PowerPHASE’s innovative air efficiency technologies are leading the way in innovation with the potential to bring about significant changes in the energy market.