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Hydrostor, a Canadian startup that’s storing energy by injecting compressed air into deep underground caverns.

Founded in 2010, Hydrostor’s core idea isn’t a new one: First, use excess electricity to run compressors and trap the pressurized air in a container. Then, to recover the energy, run the trapped air through a turbine that generates power. Small-scale compressed-air energy storage has been successfully used as a backup to restart power plants. The UK startup Highview Power is storing energy in “liquid air”—when you compress a gas enough, it turns liquid—and it has built a pilot project to test the idea.

There have been failures, too. The startup Airlight Energy built a working prototype in the Swiss Alps, but hasn’t found a commercial partner to help it scale up. The US startup LightSail Energy spent $80 million, but wasn’t able to develop an economically viable technology. Two startups, SustainX and General Compression, were forced to merge to save costs but seem to be no longer active.

Learning from these examples, Hydrostor has built something it believes can make compressed-air energy storage economically viable.
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