Wisconsin to Pioneer Carbon Dioxide-Based Energy Storage System

In a groundbreaking development, Wisconsin is set to host a first-of-its-kind energy storage system, potentially paving the way for nationwide adoption.

Alliant Energy recently revealed it had secured a $30 million federal grant for a 200-megawatt-hour storage system in Columbia County. The project, endorsed by the U.S. Department of Energy, is poised to be the inaugural demonstration of a carbon dioxide-based energy storage system on a commercial scale.

The Columbia Energy Storage Project will furnish 10 hours of energy storage capacity by compressing carbon dioxide (CO2) gas into a liquid form. When energy demand arises, the system reverts the liquid back to gas to fuel a turbine that generates electricity. The gas will be housed within what utility officials have dubbed an "energy dome."

This innovative facility is designed by the Italian company Energy Dome, which has already conducted successful trials of this technology in a smaller-scale demonstration site in Sardinia, Italy. Alliant touts the Wisconsin project as a "highly efficient, zero-emission" battery system capable of powering roughly 20,000 homes, marking a groundbreaking milestone in the United States.

Mark Anderson, Director of the Thermal-Hydraulics Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, emphasized the continued need for energy storage systems as renewable energy sources become more prevalent. He explained that since renewables like wind and solar primarily generate power during specific weather conditions, effective energy storage solutions are crucial to ensure a consistent energy supply.

Alliant Energy CEO John Larsen underscored the significance of the Columbia Energy Storage Project in augmenting the company's generation capabilities and enhancing grid reliability. He stated that this endeavor signifies a commitment to fostering stronger, more sustainable energy solutions for the communities they serve.

The facility will be situated near the existing Columbia Energy Center, a coal-fired power plant jointly owned by Alliant, WEC Energy Group, and Madison Gas and Electric. These three utilities are collaborating on the storage project.

The coal-fired power station is slated for retirement in 2026, coinciding with Alliant's target to have the storage facility operational. Plans include seeking approval from the Public Service Commission in the first half of 2024, followed by commencement of construction in 2025.

Alliant is also partnering with Shell Global Solutions U.S., Electric Power Research Institute, UW-Madison, and Madison College for this forward-looking initiative. The utility intends to prioritize Wisconsin manufacturers for sourcing materials, aiming to support local industry and communities in southwestern Wisconsin.