A 5MW plant that liquifies air for energy storage has gone operational in Bury, providing the grid with enough stored clean energy to power 5,000 homes for three hours when needed.
The Highview Power plant, situated on a landfill gas site in Bury, is the world’s first grid-scale liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant.
It was developed in partnership with waste company Viridor and received over £8 million in innovation funding from the government.
How it works
The system uses waste heat from nearby gas engines to turn air into liquid at -196°C, which is then stored in a special tank at low pressure. When the grid requires extra power, the liquid air is drawn from the tank, reheated and then pumped into a high pressure gas to drive an electricity generator.
Energy storage methods like LAES are increasingly in demand because renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are only able to generate energy intermittently.
Unlike battery-based solutions, LAES does not require the use of harmful chemicals or rare earth metals and the life-span is also much longer.
Yoav Zingher, chief executive at energy demand response firm KiWi Power, which will draw energy from the Bury plant to provide reserve power to the grid, said: “LAES technology is a great step forward in the creation of a truly de-centralised energy system in the UK.
“Given the high uptake of renewable energy in the UK this is the technology that will allow the future grid to maintain system inertia and ensure the lights stay on.”
In a statement, Highview Power said that it was already in discussions with utilities around the world to build plants “ten times the size” of the Bury plant, which could store enough energy to power towns and cities for days at a time.