Hybrid liquid air energy storage project awarded £1.5m

Storage developer Highview Power has been awarded £1.5 million by Innovate UK to add supercapacitors and flywheels to an existing liquid air energy storage (LAES) project.

Hybrid liquid air energy storage project awarded £1.5m

The aim is to demonstrate the ability of a hybrid LAES system to respond to changes in grid frequency in under a second and therefore participate in National Grid’s enhanced frequency response and firm frequency response services.

“Our electricity system requires both flexible response and longer duration energy storage. This project will address both these important topics.”

The upgrades will be made to Highview’s pre-commercial LAES demo project at Bury in Greater Manchester.

The facility, which has a storage capacity of 5MW and 15MWh, is located at the Pilsworth energy from waste plant operated by project partner Viridor. It is currently undergoing commissioning and is scheduled to come online by the end of this year. The project was awarded £8 million of funding by the Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2014.

Highview chief executive Gareth Brett said: “A hybrid LAES system provides the powerful combination of instant start and long duration storage and is an important step for Highview as it broadens the range of services which LAES can supply and will help enhance the economic case for its adoption.”

LAES works by using excess electricity to refrigerate air to minus 196 degrees centigrade to turn it into a liquid and then storing it in insulated tanks at low pressure. When power is needed, the liquid air is withdrawn from the tanks and reheated to produce a high-pressure gas which is used to drive turbines and generate electricity. To improve the efficiency of the process, waste heat from the liquefaction process is stored and then used to help reheat the air.

Electricity Storage Network chief executive Georgina Penfold commented: “We are pleased to see this initiative by Highview Power, which takes a truly whole system approach to energy storage.  Our electricity system requires both flexible response and longer duration energy storage. This project will address both these important topics. 

“Battery energy storage has made the headlines recently, but other electricity storage technologies are also of high value.”

Highview built the world’s first LAES pilot project at SSE’s biomass plant in Slough in 2011. The facility had a storage capacity of 350kW and 2.5MWh and was in operation until 2014.

The company has published conceptual designs for a colossal “Gigaplant” which would have a capacity of 200MW and 1.2GWh. It says that unlike other forms of large-scale, long-range energy storage, such as pumped hydro or compressed air energy storage, LAES does not require particular geographic features and can therefore be built closer to where it is needed.

A hybrid flywheel and battery storage project is also set to be installed at a University of Sheffield research facility near Wolverhampton.


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