World’s first grid-scale liquid air energy storage plant goes live

Posted: June 6, 2018 by oldbrew in Energy, innovation
Tags: ,

Image credit: Highview Power


Is this just another way of making renewable energy even more expensive, or what? The claim is that this “is a great step forward in the creation of a truly decentralized energy system in the UK allowing end-users to balance the national electricity network at times of peak demand”. Cranking up the boilers at the power station is going out of fashion along with the power stations themselves, but the price is high due to subsidies, and security of electricity supply is uncertain.

The world’s first grid-scale liquid air energy storage plant officially launched today, reports PEI.

The 5MW/15MWh plant near Manchester in England will become the first operational demonstration of liquid air energy storage (LAES) technology at grid-scale.

Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, officially switched on the plant, which has been developed by energy storage company Highview Power in partnership with recycling and renewable energy firm Viridor.

Professor Loughhead said: “The deployment of smart, flexible technologies, such as energy storage, will help to ensure the UK has a secure, affordable and clean energy system now and in the future in keeping with the priorities within UK government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.”

LAES technology stores air as a liquid and then converts it back to a gas, involving an expansion process that releases stored energy, and this drives a turbine to generate electricity. In addition to providing energy storage, the LAES plant at Bury converts waste heat to power using heat from the onsite landfill gas engines.

Highview Power chief executive Gareth Brett said the plant “is the only large scale, true long-duration, locatable energy storage technology available today, at acceptable cost. The adoption of LAES technology is now underway, and discussions are progressing with utilities around the world who see the opportunity for LAES to support the transition to a low-carbon world.”

After the launch, demand response aggregator KiWi Power will be able to draw energy from the LAES plant to power about 5000 average-sized homes for around three hours. The plant will demonstrate how LAES can provide a number of reserve, grid balancing and regulation services.

Continued here.

Promotional video here.

Comments
  1. tom0mason says:

    So when you compress the air it takes lots of energy, and it gets hot, you’ll have to remove that excess heat (energy lost?).
    When you vent the compressed air to the atmosphere, the liquid air in the tank rapidly cools, driving the turbine with very cold air.

    By what measure is this said to be efficient method of storing energy?

    I suspect the devil in the details is in the PIE report that glosses over with —

    “LAES technology stores air as a liquid and then converts it back to a gas, involving an expansion process that releases stored energy, and this drives a turbine to generate electricity. In addition to providing energy storage, the LAES plant at Bury converts waste heat to power using heat from the onsite landfill gas engines.”
    So instead of converting the land fill gas engines energy straight to the grid electricity, inefficiently compress the air and store it.

  2. Bitter@twisted says:

    Professor Lumpenhead said “the deployment of stupid and expensive technologies to solve a non- problem of our own making, demonstrates our leadership in the world of insanity”.
    There fixed it!

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/514936/liquefied-air-could-power-cars-and-store-energy-from-sun-and-wind/

    Highview Power’s process is 50 to 60 percent efficient—the liquid air can yield just over half as much electricity as it takes to make it. Batteries, by contrast, can be more than 90 percent efficient. But the new process can make up for its inefficiency by using waste heat from other processes (see “Audi to Make Fuel Using Solar Power”). Highview has demonstrated that low-temperature waste heat from power plants or even data centers can be used to help warm up the liquefied air. The system can also last for decades, while batteries typically need to be replaced every few years. This longevity could help reduce overall costs.

    So you throw away 1/2 the generated power, but you can cover some of that horrible loss if you have a source of modest heat “for free” available during the liquid air warming process…

    In other words: A highly inefficient process that MIGHT be usable in a few niche areas with massive “waste” heat available for free.

  4. stpaulchuck says:

    Rube Goldberg would be in awe of the Warmists!

  5. oldbrew says:

    Rube Goldberg’s “Self-Operating Napkin”


    Professor Butts and the Self-Operating Napkin (1931). Soup spoon (A) is raised to mouth, pulling string (B) and thereby jerking ladle (C), which throws cracker (D) past parrot (E). Parrot jumps after cracker and perch (F) tilts, upsetting seeds (G) into pail (H). Extra weight in pail pulls cord (I), which opens and ignites lighter (J), setting off skyrocket (K), which causes sickle (L) to cut string (M), allowing pendulum with attached napkin to swing back and forth, thereby wiping chin.
    – – –
    On a good day, that is 😎
    If the rocket scares the parrot off – game over.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Highview Power says:
    No exotic metals or harmful chemicals are involved and the process does not release any carbon emissions. The plant comprises mostly of steel, which has a lifespan of between 30 to 40 years, in comparison with 10 years for batteries. At the end of life, a LAES plant can be decommissioned and the steel recycled. LAES plants can be located at the point of demand which makes them highly flexible and able to supply energy to help urban areas keep the lights on.

    http://www.gasworld.com/highview-power-launches-worlds-first-grid-scale-laes-plant/2014874.article#/close
    – – –
    Short promo video here.

  7. ivan says:

    The one item that is conspicuous by its absence is where is the energy coming from to liquefy the air? Are they using diesel engines or do they hope to get it from the grid and who is paying for it?

    All we know is that the company rolled out one of the government’s useless academics to read the marketing blurb – I assume they couldn’t find a genuine engineer to do that without laughing his head off, not good for the marketing wonks or fooling the public.

    I suspect that the company’s answer will be that they will use excess renewable energy but where does it come from since the unreliables have produced almost nothing for the last week.

    Another government sponsored scam to relieve energy consumers of their money.

  8. Tenuc says:

    Unbelievable stupidity on an epic scale. This is possibly the worst idea since sliced bread! We still have plenty of coal and oil / natural gas just waiting to be fracked. Using our natural resources would also be a good PR friendly way to save our interminably failing NHS.

  9. oldbrew says:

    Florida’s ‘city of the future’ is first solar-powered town in America

    Babcock Ranch, near Fort Myers on state’s west coast, was developed from the beginning with a massive solar power farm generating 100 percent of the electric needs. About 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels stretch across a swath of land the size of 200 football fields.

    http://www.foxnews.com/science/2018/06/06/floridas-city-future-is-first-solar-powered-town-in-america.html

    Somebody had to pay for those panels. Any subsidies?

  10. ilma630 says:

    Yet again we see the difference between scientists and engineers exposed. This ‘technology’ by definition, has to be incredibly inefficient, and no serious engineer would support it. Its just so obviously a crock!

  11. Dave Ward says:

    But “Air” isn’t just one gas – it’s composed of many. When you cool down a mixture of gases they liquefy one by one, at different temperatures. That’s how the Oxygen for my welding torch is produced at the bottling plant. Does this LAES process simply keep going until ALL the constituents are in liquid form?

  12. oldbrew says:

    Air was first liquefied by Carl von Linde. He used a very clever trick to use the use air cooled by expansion to pre-cool itself – a feedback effect that produced extremely low temperatures.

    http://www.gizmology.net/liquid_air.htm

  13. Dave Ward says:

    @ oldbrew – thanks for the link, but his “Thoughts” say exactly what I was thinking. He even mentions “Fractional Distillation”. If this hair-brained idea ever gets off the ground, Carl von Linde’s latter day company – and BOC, who they now own – could face some (well needed) competition in the supply of industrial gases…

  14. oldbrew says:

    It is off the ground – as a pilot at least…

    Professor John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser at the UK government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, officially switched on the plant

    They say they could build one 10 times larger with existing know-how.

  15. Bitter@twisted says:

    “They say they could build one 10 times larger with existing stupidity”
    There fixed it for Prof. Lumpenhead.

  16. tallbloke says:

    Who needs it when you can make petrol from air?
    https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/562289/

  17. oldbrew says:

    TB: looks like an attempt to monetise the carbon cycle.

    For some reason they think if they ‘suck carbon’ out of the air, the climate system won’t notice and will just carry on absorbing/emitting at the same rate as before. Which is probably true on the piddly virtue-signalling scale they’re likely to be operating at 😐

  18. oldbrew says:

    Peugeot explains how government meddling killed its compressed air vehicle tech.
    https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/peugeot-blames-politicians-death-hybrid-air

  19. dscott says:

    oldbrew, Peugeot basically says that the lack of subsidies is what caused them to decide not to market the product. In other words, the compressed air hybrid wasn’t economically feasible on its own. It probably did get better gas mileage than a convention engine but the first cost outweighed any fuel savings over the life of the vehicle.

    What I don’t understand is why it isn’t economical to have say a compressed air brake regenerative system. Apply the brakes, use the action of an air compressor to slow down the vehicle and then touch the gas pedal to have the compressed air drive the wheels to initiate movement.

    I guess it would be too Rube Goldberg to have a heat exchanger on the exhaust manifold of a gas engine to heat a compressed air tank to recover some of the exhaust waste heat and then use that increase in pressure to power the drive train?

  20. oldbrew says:

    dscott – all these things add weight to the vehicle and occupy space. Probably less than batteries though :/

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