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Renewable Energy Storage

SALT DOME

Renewable Energy Storage Spinout

To further build shareholder value, Atlas is planning a strategic spinout of its Fischell’s Brook Salt Dome located approximately 15 km south of the company’s flagship Great Atlantic Salt Project. 
 
Atlas views Fischell’s Brook as a potential wind power/green hydrogen energy storage opportunity that could also benefit from recent advancements in compressed air (CAES) technology.  

What’s a Salt Dome?

Unlike Great Atlantic, which is a homogenous, flat-lying and relatively shallow high-purity salt deposit, Fischell’s Brook is considered a salt dome-type deposit which is more vertical in its orientation. 

Grades, generally, aren’t as high in salt domes, but they do contain large amounts of salt and they also hold a particularly special advantage – these structures are ideal for cost effective and environmentally friendly underground renewable energy storage, which is why U.S. strategic oil reserves for many years have been kept in “salt caverns”. These caverns are created in a salt dome by drilling into the structure and circulating water, which dissolves the salt. The leftover brine is then removed, leaving a storage cavity. The surrounding salt has properties that prevents gas and air from migrating out of the caverns, including very low porosity and permeability plus self-healing characteristics.  

Clean Energy Transition Highlights Importance of Salt Domes

In the current global move toward clean energy and net zero emissions by 2050, salt caverns are becoming increasingly popular around the world as a means of storing renewable energy (through well-established technology) for the power grid including green hydrogen and wind. This trend started in Europe and has crossed the shores into North America, particularly in the last year. The Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Utah, for example, aims to build the world’s largest storage facility for 1,000 megawatts of clean power, partly by putting hydrogen into underground salt caverns (due to their special rock properties, salt caverns can store very large volumes of hydrogen and can operate at the high pressures involved in storing hydrogen, particularly with deeper caverns).

Energy Storage

Energy storage is a key component to deliver clean energy transition. With climate change and associated green environmental policies driving significant investment toward alternate energy sources and global carbon emission reduction, underground storage will play an important role in Canada’s energy future. The Government of Canada recently developed and  published a “Hydrogen Strategy for Canada” (https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/climate-change/the-hydrogen-strategy/23080) in which it predicted: “With worldwide demand for hydrogen increasing, the global market could reach over $11 trillion by 2050. Each region of Canada can utilize their unique resources to produce and deploy hydrogen domestically as well as to supply a growing export market. Based on their existing country strategies, demand potential, and proximity, Europe, Asia, and the United States have been identified as potential export markets for Canadian clean hydrogen. Implementing the Hydrogen Strategy can spark early economic recovery, lead to a $50 billion domestic hydrogen sector, and generate more than 350,000 high paying jobs from coast to coast.”

Fischell’s Brook

In early 2019 Atlas reported that pursuant to a “Request For Proposals On The Fischell’s Brook Salt Property Exempt Mineral Land” issued by the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the company was the successful bidder and was awarded the mineral rights to Fischell’s Brook.The acquisition of this asset now takes on much greater significance with recent developments in the rapidly expanding global energy storage market, estimated to be growing at a minimum annual CAGR of 20%. As a result, Atlas recently added 300 claims or 75 sq. km to its landholdings in the general vicinity of Fischell’s Brook to cover more strategic ground with storage potential that would be included in the planned spinout.

Based on technical work filed with the provincial government by previous operators, six holes targeting the Fischell’s Brook salt dome have been drilled on the area covered by the Company’s licenses.Four holes penetrated gross salt thicknesses exceeding 400 meters including up to 764 meters in Hooker #1 to a depth of 1,099 meters. These four holes all terminated in salt and encompass an area exceeding 2.25 square kilometers, providing large potential storage cavern volume. Atlas is carrying out a detailed compilation of all previous work and data related to this salt dome.

 

The Plan

Given the location of Fischell’s Brook, on the breezy western coast of Newfoundland, Atlas envisions a wind-hydrogen combination as a business model for the planned energy storage spinout. The Fischell’s Brook salt dome also has potential as a compressed air energy storage (CAES) “battery” that could act as a store of electricity to balance the load of other sources of electrical generation. In its simplest sense, CAES allows for the storage of compressed air underground utilizing excess electrical power in the compression stage. When the “stored power” is needed, the compressed air is released into power generating turbines. This technology is currently in use and is undergoing rapid development to maximize its efficiency.

Mr. Patrick Laracy, Atlas Salt CEO, commented: “Developments in the energy storage space have been dramatic since we were the successful bidder for Fischell’s Brook. Just like Atlas was born out of a spinout, we see a great opportunity to launch a dynamic energy storage play anchored by the Fischell’s Brook asset.”

 

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