If a storage plant were to be built in New Jersey, it would most likely use above-ground tanks or abandoned gas pipelines because so much of the state is on solid rock, which would be expensive to excavate, Mr. Byrd said.
More favorable locations, he said, include upstate New York, where there are depleted salt mines as well as wind farms. Old coal mines and tapped-out natural gas fields can also be converted into underground reservoirs.
Roy Daniel, the chief executive of Energy Storage and Power, said that an underground reservoir the size of Giants Stadium could hold enough compressed air to power three 300-megawatt plants. (One megawatt hour can power a large hospital for an hour.) The reservoirs, which are typically more than 1,500 feet below ground, could take eight hours to fill at night. The compressed air would be released to run generators for eight hours during the day.
Though the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island has been deemed suitable for a wind farm, and the mayor has envisioned a future in which the city’s bridges and skyscrapers are topped with turbines, a compressed air storage plant is unlikely to be built in New York City because of the rocky underground and the lack of free space above ground.
But New York utilities could buy power stored and produced anywhere. Advocates of wind power support the use of compressed air storage facilities, but say that almost all of the wind power produced nationally is fed straight into the grid without having to be stored.
“Different sectors like to associate with wind power, and if compressed air will truly help wind, then fine,” said Robert E. Gramlich, the policy director at the American Wind Energy Association. “But we don’t want to give anyone the impression that storage is needed to integrate wind. Even growing 20-fold, storage isn’t needed.”
Mr. Gramlich pointed to a federal Department of Energy report that showed wind power could meet 20 percent of electricity needs in the United States by 2030 without the need for storage facilities.
Still, storage facilities could help reduce the need to build new gas and coal plants, or to use current plants, powered by fossil fuels.
“In the next couple of years, we want to install a couple of them so it becomes a tool in the toolbox to meet needs,” said Arshad Mansoor, the vice president of power delivery and utilization at the Electric Power Research Institute.