Innovate UK awards £1.5m for first of its kind liquid air energy storage

Published on: August 10, 2017 8:57 amBy: ESJ


Highview Power Storage announced on August 1 that it had received a £1.5 million ($1.85 million) grant from the UK government to test the grid-scale frequency response services capability of a 5MW hybrid liquid air energy storage system.

The funding was awarded for frequency response from a facility using liquid air energy storage — LAES. This is part of a competition called ‘First of a Kind Deployment of Innovation’ run by Innovate UK, the development agency.

The system will use LAES technology alongside supercapacitors and flywheels at the UK company’s 5MW/15MWh pre-commercial demonstrator plant at project partner, Viridor’s, Pilsworth landfill gas plant in Bury, Greater Manchester.

The aim is to test the system’s performance and economics ahead of business-as-usual operation by summer 2018. A typical LAES system takes up to 30 seconds to respond and provide standard frequency response services, but in its hybrid configuration with the flywheel kicking in first, the system will take less than a second.

With response times in the sub-second range, the technology is comparable with lithium-ion, as well as being scalable up to 100MW, making it comparable to CAES (compressed air systems) and pumped hydro in capacity, although LAES can be deployed regardless of the geographical constraints.

The project will cover an area of 375 square meters — the footprint for a 20MW/80MWh system is around 1500 square metres.

A HPS spokesperson told Energy Storage Journal: “The two systems are complementary and will enable the Hybrid LAES plant to provide standard and fast frequency control services. The sub-second response required for fast frequency control services will be provided by flywheels ands, characterized by a low energy capacity. LAES will supplement the response of these as required.”

It will be the first time the technology has been deployed for grid frequency services, such as Firm Frequency Response, and tested against the requirements of National Grid’s new Enhanced Frequency Response service to maintain the UK grid frequency within the ± 1% of 50Hz.

Gareth Brett, chief executive of HPS said, “A hybrid system provides the powerful combination of instant start and long duration storage and is an important step for Highview as it broadens the range of services which LAES can supply and will help enhance the economic case for its adoption.”

The funding comes after Highview built the world’s first LAES pilot plant (350kW/2.5MWh) connected to the grid at UK network firm Scottish and Southern Energy’s biomass plant in Slough, which ran from 2011 until 2014.

Georgina Penfold, CEO of the Electricity Storage Network said she was pleased to see this initiative, which took a whole system approach to energy storage. “Our electricity system requires both flexible response and longer duration energy storage. This project will address both these important topics,” she said.

“Battery energy storage has made the headlines recently, but other electricity storage technologies are also of high value. This Liquid Air Energy Storage solution is not only applicable to the British electricity system, but shows great potential for exporting British expertise into international markets.”

The system works by taking electricity off the grid and using it to cool air to -194°C until it becomes a liquid, where it is stored in tanks at low pressure above the ground.

When energy is required the liquid is heated to around room temperature, where it turns back into air and is used to power a turbine, which in turn powers generators.

The project was awarded funding of more than £8 million from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2014 and is in commissioning. It is due online at the end of the year.

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