The energy potential from wind is significant in many locations in the U.S., including in some areas of New York State. The intermittent availability of wind — specifically, higher wind potential at night and in the winter in New York — would require extensive storage to make use of that energy during times of peak electricity demand — during the day and in the summer. Although the total energy available from wind may be sufficient and available at a low cost, the cost of implementing traditional storage techniques (e.g. batteries) would be expensive and require large amounts of space to address the offset supply and demand profiles. As such, base electricity loads are likely to continue to be served by a combination of less expensive energy conversion technologies, particularly given the current low cost of wholesale natural gas for gas-fueled power plants. Compressed air energy storage (CAES) has been evaluated — and implemented or proposed at a small number of facilities — as a potential energy storage technology that could be used to reduce the amount natural gas required to operate compressors at natural gas-fueled power plants serving base electricity demands. The result of this strategy is, effectively, an increase in thermal efficiency of the power plant.
This paper presents an evaluation of wind energy available at a site in New York State, its potential to meet the electricity demand in New York City, the expected capital and recurring costs of the overall system, and a comparison to electricity provided by natural gas, a likely alternative large-scale fuel source. Annual wind data for the site and annual New York City electricity usage were analyzed. Available wind energy was first assumed to serve any electricity demand above the New York City base load. Additional available wind energy operates compressors, storing compressed air in underground caverns. The cavern sizes required and associated capital costs was calculated. The expected reduction in natural gas requirements were calculated for gas-fuelled power plants designed to accept compressed air from the caverns, with additional electricity demand met by gas turbine power plants. The recurrent cost reductions associated with reduced natural gas volumes were calculated based on a range of natural gas prices to evaluate the feasibility of the system described above under different market conditions. The potential usage of CAES systems for peak electricity demands was also evaluated.