NW study of storing compressed air underground

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VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) -- The latest idea for energy storage in the Northwest: Pump compressed air into underground basalt formations and later tap the bubble to generate electricity.

Underground storage has been used with natural gas, but the new research is looking for ways to store the power generated by wind turbines when the electrical grid can't handle it. That was the situation last year when high flows on the Columbia River had hydroelectric dams running at capacity. The Bonneville Power Administration wanted wind farms to shut down to avoid overloading the grid.

The Columbian reports (http://is.gd/ev0qLC ) the BPA and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory are conducting the $790,000 study. A researcher says the technology has the potential to regenerate more than 75 percent of the energy that is used for storage.

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Information from: The Columbian, http://www.columbian.com