University scientists have been working with Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE), the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and Innosuisse within the framework of the Swiss Competence Center for Energy Research (SCCER), together with industrial partners, to investigate whether electricity can be stored in rock caverns in the form of compressed air. During the charging process, compressors convert electrical energy into hot compressed air. This air is cooled by passing it through a heat accumulator and then stored in an airtight rock cavern. During the unloading process, the cold air from the cavern flows through the accumulator, absorbs heat and is then expanded in a turbine, which generates electricity via a generator. The compressed air reservoirs can absorb temporary production surpluses of renewable electricity (e.g. solar power) in the Alps until the electricity is needed without impairing the landscape. Furthermore, they could provide so-called control power, i.e. control energy as required to stabilise the electricity grid.
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