BEIS chief scientist opens world’s first grid-scale liquid air energy storage plant

The new £8m Highview Power liquid air energy storage plant
The new £8 million Highview Power liquid air energy storage plant

The world’s first grid-scale liquid air energy storage plant has been officially opened at Bury, Lancashire, by Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The 5MW/15MWh  plant at the Pilsworth landfill gas site has been developed in partnership with recycling and renewable energy company, Viridor, and has been enabled in part by over £8 million in funding from the UK government.

Professor Loughhead said, “We welcome the accomplishment of Highview Power, working together with their project site partner Viridor, to successfully build and operate this grid-scale liquid air energy storage technology demonstration plant.

“The deployment of smart, flexible technologies, such as energy storage, will help to ensure the UK has a secure, affordable and clean energy system now and in the future in keeping with the priorities within UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.

Gareth Brett, chief executive, Highview Power, said, “Support from Government, our partners and our supply chain, has enabled Highview Power to successfully design and build the world’s first grid-scale LAES plant here in the UK.

“The plant is the only large scale, true long-duration, locatable energy storage technology available today, at acceptable cost.

“The adoption of LAES technology is now underway, and discussions are progressing with utilities around the world who see the opportunity for LAES to support the transition to a low-carbon world.”

Following the launch, demand response aggregator KiWi Power is now able to draw energy from the LAES plant to power about 5,000 average-sized homes for around three hours.

The plant will demonstrate how LAES can provide a number of reserve, grid balancing and regulation services. Yet the opportunity is far greater: LAES technology can scale to hundreds of Megawatts in line with the energy demand of urban areas the size of small towns up to large cities. 

This means that LAES plants could easily store enough clean electricity generated by a local windfarm to power a town like Bury (around 100,000 homes) for many days, not just a few hours.

LAES technology makes use of a freely available resource, the air, which is stored as a liquid and then converted back to a gas, involving an expansion process that releases stored energy, and this drives a turbine to generate electricity. In addition to providing energy storage, the LAES plant at Bury converts waste heat to power using heat from the on-site landfill gas engines.

Yoav Zingher, KiWi Power chief executive, said “Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) technology is a great step forward in the creation of a truly de-centralised energy system in the UK allowing end-users to balance the national electricity network at times of peak demand.

“By drawing energy from a diverse range of low-carbon storage assets, companies can not only balance the grid but help meet rising energy demand and respond to changing patterns of consumption on a local and national level.”

6 Jun 2018

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