Iowa’s failed wind energy project

Photo by nualabugeye, Flickr

Iowa recently incurred what is being described as the greatest failure of the $100 million Power Fund started by former Governor Chet Culver in 2007. An $8 million project striving to store wind energy underground was abandoned on Thursday. The Des Moines Register reports that tests of the underground structures determined that they are unable to adequately store the air from wind farms:

Backers who spent more than $8 million and worked five years to develop a system to store wind energy underground voted Thursday to abandon their efforts.

The Iowa Stored Energy Park, working to develop one of the world’s few systems to store energy for electricity, said two geological tests showed underground formations unable to hold sufficient pressured air from nearby wind farms that would later be released to provide power during peak hours.

The plan called for electricity created from wind farms to be compressed into air and stored underground, then released back into the generator to be converted back to electricity when needed.

Municipal utilities would have had first call on the reserve electricity.

The tests surprised project promoters, primarily Iowa’s municipal utilities and the Iowa Power Fund. They believed that the presence of a decades-old natural gas underground storage cavern in nearby Redfield would signify the geological worthiness of the formations six miles away in Dallas County.

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About Michael Gallagher

I am originally from outside of Chicago, but I have spent the last five years in Iowa pursuing my education. From 2006-2010 I attended Grinnell College, where I received a B.A. in English. Currently, I am a graduate student in the University of Iowa's journalism department. In addition to my work for CGRER, I write for the non-profit investigative reporting organization Iowa Watch. Previously, I worked as a freelance writer, primarily contributing to Hoopla (The Gazette's arts and culture publication), and I assistant coached the Grinnell College cross country and track teams for a year. My interests include writing, running, watching the Chicago Bulls, and . . . environmental news!
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