The UK’s first pre-commercial scale liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant is set to be built in Bury this winter with a 5MW capacity - the largest long-duration energy storage project in the country to date.
The innovative storage technology, developed by London-based LAES specialists, Highview Power Storage, will be installed at the Pilsworth landfill facility in Bury, which is run by national waste management firm, Viridor.
LAES technology operates by using excess electricity to drive an air liquifier, allowing liquid air to be stored in an insulated tank at low pressure. When power is required, the liquid air can then be drawn from the tank and pumped into a high pressure gas to drive a generator turbine.
The LAES plant under construction will use low-grade waste heat from on-site landfill gas engines to power the energy generation process.
The project was awarded £8 million in funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to demonstrate the potential of the technology, which can be considered as being similar in capacity to medium-scale pumped hydro-electricity storage but without the geographical and environmental restrictions.
The main components for the landmark project - including a turbine and generator, heat exchangers and thermal and cryogenic storage tanks - are now all on-site for assembly. Operation is due to begin by the end of 2015 and will continue for at least one year to demonstrate the potential uses of LAES.
Gareth Brett, chief executive of Highview, said: “This is a breakthrough technology that enables a new and compelling solution for large-scale, long-duration energy storage. There is nothing else available right now that can be deployed at this scale and duration, and at low cost.
“This project with Viridor will be an invaluable demonstration for the power sector to evaluate, implement, utilise and capitalise on this milestone.”
As one of the first LAES demonstrators in the world, the project will provide a unique opportunity to explore the potential of the technology for balancing supply and demand on the national grid as energy generation systems become more decentralised and intermittent.
Dr Jill Cainey, a research scientist at the Electricity Storage Network, said: “Electricity storage like LAES offers critical support to the [UK] system at a time when the penetration of variable generation and the loss of high carbon power plants causes real system stress.
“The flexibility that electricity storage offers not only allows greater deployment of low carbon generation, but provides vital services such as frequency response and inertia, to ensure a secure and stable electricity supply.”
During its operation, the LAES plant will provide a number of grid-balancing services, including short-term operating reserve (STOR) and supporting the grid during peak winter months.
The new technology could play a role in the global “megashift” towards energy storage that is expected to take place over the next few years.