Highview Power officially switched on its 5MW liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant today in Bury, greater Manchester.
The development, in partnership with energy from waste firm Viridor, is capable of delivering 15MWh of power.
The firms hope to prove the potential of liquid air to deliver longer-duration energy storage, which if successful, could help address capacity shortfalls as well as deliver multiple grid balancing services, both in the UK and internationally.
Highview CEO Gareth Brett believes long-duration storage will make up the bulk of global energy storage – and the company believes its technology could meet almost half of that demand. Brett claims the company is in discussions with utility firms to build 150MWh units.
The technology takes air, stores it as a liquid, then converts it back to gas. The expansion process releases stored energy, which is used to drive a turbine to generate electricity. The LAES plant at Bury also converts waste heat to power using heat from the on-site landfill gas engines. Highview said no harmful chemicals are used in the process and the asset, mostly made of steel, has a lifespan of 30-40 years, versus around 10-15 for a lithium-ion battery.
According to Highview, LAES could ultimately scale to hundreds of megawatts, potentially storing enough energy to power entire towns. Pairing the technology with renewables generation would also make that power clean, as well as helping the system cope in times of excess wind or solar generation.
The Bury development was partially tax-payer funded, in the form of an £8m government grant. Now Highview plans to export the technology.
“We estimate that 60% 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, around 45%,” said Brett.
“The LAES plant in Bury has already played a key role in the breakthrough of LAES technology and will continue to do so. Utilities from around the world who have for some time been assessing our solution for their storage challenges, are now using the operating data to confirm their expectations.
“We are therefore already in detailed negotiations to build plants ten times the size of this one for utility customers of several nationalities and for various different applications.”
Aggregator Kiwi Power will bid the Bury asset into flexibility markets.