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Too Much Wind Energy? Save It Underground in Volcanic Rock Reservoirs

A new study shows compressed air storage in porous geologic formations could help the Pacific Northwest manage its surplus of intermittent renewable energy.

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These wind turbines whirring above the clouds in Vantage, Washington are just part of the Pacific Northwest's renewable energy boom. To manage a surplus of intermittent power, U.S. scientists propose underground compressed air storage in porous volcanic rock.

Image of the 125 Anniversary logo Gusting winds and swelling rivers bless the U.S. Pacific Northwest with an abundance of renewable energy resources in the spring and early summer. So much, in fact, that at times in recent years the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a federal utility, has forced wind farm owners to curb their output to keep electricity generation in balance with the rise and fall of demand on the grid. (See related quiz: "What You Don't Know About Wind Energy.")