Highview Power, the firm pioneering liquid air energy storage (LAES), hopes to announce a 50MW/200MWh unit in the UK later this year and plans to bid it into the Capacity Market auction in January.
CEO Gareth Brett told The Energyst that larger units are much more cost effective to build than the new 5MW/15MWh plant in Bury, greater Manchester, that officially opened earlier this month.
That is because key pieces of kit required for the plant are more readily available at large scale.
“At 50MW scale, the refrigeration plant and turbo expander are at a size that suits all of the big machinery manufacturers. There is an existing large supply chain and plenty of competition, which provides a good opportunity to keep costs competitive,” he said.
Bringing the Bury development down to 5MW scale was more challenging.
“[5MW] is a little small for the main turbo machinery manufacturers, so there is a smaller pool to fish in, making it more expensive,” said Brett.
With The Bury site now up and running, “the next step is a 50MW/200MWh” plant.
“It is absolutely our plan to announce one unit in the UK this year, at least one, hopefully we are not too far away from that,” said Brett, adding he would be “disappointed if we do not announce another [large] unit in the US early next year”.
If the UK deal comes through, Brett said the firm “hopes to bid into the Capacity Market auction in January”, as well as eyeing other short-term capacity and balancing opportunities.
If it does bid into the Capacity Market, a four-hour duration capability qualifies for 96% of the outturn, following de-rating of storage within the CM last year. Short duration batteries receive only a fraction of the headline rate.
While plant at such large scale is primarily aimed at utilities, Brett said economies of scale also work at around 20MW upwards, making large industrial companies potential customers.
Such firms would be able to avoid “a lot of capacity cost embedded in their electricity contracts,” said Brett, as well as provide balancing services.
“[Liquid air energy storage] is not as quick as lithium-ion, but it can do anything pumped hydro can do in roughly the same timescale … it can load up in around 10 seconds, which is reasonable for the frequency response market,” said Brett.
He said the technology can also provide Black Start services (which National Grid is planning to open up to more types of generation), as well as bulk time shifting of energy.
“The way the wholesale markets look at the moment [time shifting] doesn’t look super attractive,” admitted Brett. “But the general opinion is that as you get more intermittent generation on the system, that will gradually change.”