Nerval's Lobster writes "Major IT vendors have been including custom-built wind- and solar-power farms in their datacenter construction plans. But while wind and solar power may be clean, they're often unreliable, especially by the standards of datacenters that need a way to keep operating through any unexpected surges or drops in power. How about saving the wind that generates the power? That might work, according to researchers at the federal Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), and U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. A study published in February (PDF) outlined the potential benefit of pumping pressurized air into caverns deep underground as a way to store wind energy, then letting it out whenever demand spikes, or the wind drops, and the above-ground facilities need help spinning enough turbines to keep power levels steady. The technique, called Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) isn't new: existing CAES plants in Alabama and Huntorf, Germany (built in 1991 and 1978, respectively) store compressed air in underground salt caverns hollowed out by solution mining (pumping salt-saturated water out of concentrations of salt buried far underground and replacing it with fresh water). But implementing such a technique for datacenters might take a little work. The BPA and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have already identified, and are evaluating, sites in the Pacific Northwest that would be suitable for CAES underground reservoirs; the first, which could be located in Washington's Columbia Hills could—via existing CAES technology—store enough compressed air to generate a steady 207MW for 40 days of continuous usage, ultimately delivering 400 additional hours without adding any compressed air."
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