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Highview Power Begins Construction of a 50MW Cryogenic Energy Storage Plant in the UK

published: 2020-11-23 18:30

Highview Power, a pioneer in cryogenic energy storage, announced on November 6 that it has commenced the construction of a commercial energy storage plant in Greater Manchester, UK. Provisionally named CRYOBattery, the project is scheduled for completion by 2023 and designed to have a storage capacity of 50MW (250MWh). It is expected to be among the largest energy storage projects in Europe. Highview was established in 2005 and has headquarters in the UK and the US.

Javier Cavada, CEO and president of Highview, said that CRYOBattery will play an instrumental role in the electric power system of the UK. He pointed out that as the National Grid transitions to renewable generation, it also needs energy storage that is clean, dependable, cost-efficient, and capable of continuing operation over a long period. The technology developed by his company can assist in stabilizing the grid during this interim period by preventing potential supply disruptions and blackouts.

As one of the few specialists in cryogenic energy storage, Highview has raised the technology to a new level of maturity. The operating principle behind the technology is the liquefaction of gases and re-gasification. Air and other gases can turn into liquid and shrink in volume at low temperatures. When the temperature rises again, the previously liquefied gases return to their original state and expand in volume. This process, in turn, produces energy.

Highview’s cryogenic energy storage system utilizes air liquefaction. The ambient air is condensed into liquid form at -196°C (-320˚F) and stored in an insulated, low-pressure vessel. The liquefied air is approximately 1/700th of its original volume. When the system is required to supply power, the liquefied air is exposed to the ambient temperature and undergoes a rapid re-gasification. The 700-fold expansion in volume creates the force that propels generation turbines.

According to Highview’s website, cryogenic energy storage has many key advantages over batteries and peaking power plants. It requires no burning of fuels or chemical reactions. Furthermore, the construction of a cryogenic energy storage system requires no rare materials or expensive components. It is based on the hardware and processes that are available in the turbo machinery, power generation, and industrial gas sectors. Like batteries, a cryogenic energy storage system can store energy over a long duration and scale up to meet growing demand. It is also just as flexible and reliable.

In 2014, the UK government gave an £8 million grant to Highview and another energy developer to build a facility that demonstrates cryogenic energy storage. Located in Greater Manchester, this 5MW (15MWh) facility is designed using research from the Birmingham Centre for Cryogenic Energy Storage. This June, the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy gave another £10 million grant to Highview to build CRYOBattery in Trafford Energy Park. The site is located in Carrington Village, which is 8 miles outside of the city of Manchester. With a capacity of 250MWh, CRYOBattery is twice the scale of the Hornsdale Power Reserve in Australia. Built by Tesla, the Hornsdale Power Reserve is currently the world’s largest energy storage plant based on lithium-ion batteries.

Once completed, CRYOBattery will be jointly operated by Highview and Carlton Power, which is an independent power producer in the UK. The facility will be fully integrated into the existing substation and transmission infrastructure. In terms of services provided and revenue generation, CRYOBattery will be trading power in several segments of the utility market. These include arbitrage, grid balancing, storage, and ancillary services (e.g., frequency response and voltage support).

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