Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS) and Magnum Development, the owner of a large and geographically rare underground salt dome in Utah, have teamed to develop a massive project that could store up 1,000 MW of renewable energy year-round and provide it to variability-challenged Western power markets.
The companies this week signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop the $1 billion Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project in Millard, in central Utah, MHPS CEO Paul Browning told POWER on May 30. The project has the backing of Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R), who lauded the project for its potential to “put Utah on the map as the epicenter of utility-scale storage for the Western U.S.”
ACES will comprise a series of facilities above and within the Magnum Salt Dome, a geologic formation that was tectonically developed from a bedded salt deposit, and which seismic mapping suggests measures at least one mile thick and about three miles wide. Magnum has proposed future facilities at the site that could form a “Western Energy Hub”—essentially a series of mined caverns capable of storing natural gas, compressed air, and liquid energy products underground.
“With five salt caverns already in operation for liquid fuels storage, Magnum is continuing to develop compressed air energy storage (CAES) and renewable hydrogen storage options,” the company said in a statement Thursday. “Strategically located adjacent to the Intermountain Power Project, the Magnum site is positioned to integrate seamlessly with the Western U.S. power grid utilizing existing infrastructure,” it noted.
MHPS, meanwhile, is looking to build facilities to convert renewable power from Western power markets into renewable hydrogen, which would then be combusted at a 600-MW JAC-series combined cycle power plant it plans to build with a partner above ground at ACES. ACES will also be outfitted to harness CAES stored at the caverns, and MHPS plans to supplement the facility with solid oxide fuel cells and large-scale flow batteries, to ensure it can store energy 24/7, 365-day and flexibly dispatch as much as 1,000 MW at grid-scale to balance variability from renewables that are increasingly flooding Western markets.
Browning told POWER that the companies plans to build an initial 250-MW phase of underground storage by 2025. The project is currently in the development phase, and MHPS still needs to find partners to build the power plant, as well as suppliers for the solid oxide and flow battery technology.read more