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Highview Power Launches  World’s First Grid-Scale Liquid Air Energy Storage Plant

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Highview Power, based in London, has launched the world’s first grid-scale liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant. The 5 MW/15 MWh LAES plant that is located near Manchester, United Kingdom, is the first operational facility using LAES technology at grid scale.
Highview Power Launches  World’s First Grid-Scale Liquid Air Energy Storage Plant
Courtesy of Highview Power

"The global energy storage market will grow to a cumulative 125 GW/305 GWh by 2030, attracting $103 billion in investment over this period,” said Logan Goldie-Scot, head of energy storage analysis at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “Utility-scale storage becomes a practical alternative to new-build generation or network reinforcement, especially for underutilized assets in some markets. We expect energy storage to increasingly be used for longer durations over this period, providing such services as peaking capacity and renewable energy integration."

The plant was developed in partnership with Viridor, a recycling and renewable energy company, and was enabled in part by over £8 million ($10.6 million) in funding from the UK government. The Pilsworth LAES plant is expected to be able to store and deliver enough electricity to power about 5,000 average-sized homes for around three hours and also provide a number of reserve, grid balancing, and regulation services.

“The market opportunity for LAES is considerable – we estimate that 60 percent of the global energy storage market comprises long-duration, grid connected storage and that our LAES technology is ready to meet almost half of this,” said Highview Power CEO Gareth Brett.

True long duration energy storage is critical to enable the broader deployment of renewable energy; overcome the intermittency of solar and wind energy; and help smooth peaks and troughs in demand. According to the company, LAES can cost-effectively scale up to hundreds of MWs and could easily store enough electricity to power a town of around 100,000 homes over a period of many days.

Richard Pennells, managing director, energy at Viridor said, “The innovative LAES technology which has been developed through the Highview Power project could play an important role in supporting UK growth in low carbon, renewable energy sources and in maintaining the security of the United Kingdom’s electricity supply.”

LAES technology makes use of a freely available resource - air - which is stored as a liquid and then converted back to a gas in a process that involves a 700-fold expansion in volume and produces zero emissions. This expansion releases stored energy, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. In addition to providing energy storage, the LAES plant converts waste heat to power using heat from the on-site landfill gas engines. A unique advantage of LAES technology is that plants can be located at the point of demand. No exotic metals or harmful chemicals are involved. The plant comprises mostly steel which has a lifespan of between 30 to 40 years, in comparison with just 10 years for batteries. At the end of life, an LAES plant can be decommissioned and the steel recycled.

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