Technology developer Highview Power has launched the world’s first liquid air energy storage plant opens near Manchester in the UK, potentially carving a new alterantive to the multi-billion dollar lithium ion (li-ion) battery sector for global energy storage.
The pioneering liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant in Pilsworth will act as a giant rechargeable battery, soaking up excess wind energy at peak times and releasing it when needed.
“LAES is arguably the only viable, long-duration, locatable energy storage technology available,” Gareth Brett, chief executive of Highview Power, said, adding that the firm sees a “worldwide market for LAES worth US$15 billion a year”.
Balancing Global Energy Demand
Li-ion battery technology currently accounts for more than 95 per cent of annual storage deployments in the U.S. but is costly for time frames over a few hours.
“These storage systems need durability, long useful life, flexibility and reliability. Highview’s LAES is one of the more promising solutions we have seen,” Gianluca Gigliuci, head of energy storage Innovation at Enel Green Power, said.
By relying on off-the shelf industrial components the new LAES concept allows for stable storage over days or weeks, greatly improving the reliability of wind and solar farms.
“The working principle is quite similar to a domestic fridge – just the temperature and pressure ranges are different… It can easily be kept in tanks for about two months,” Yulong Ding, professor at the University of Birmingham, said.