Liquefied air to generate commercial scale electricity 09 May 2013

A consortium comprising National Grid, Costain and Highview Power Storage is expected to build the UK's first grid scale liquid air energy storage plant.

Assuming the plant gets the go-ahead, it will be constructed at National Grid's Grain LNG (liquefied natural gas) import terminal on the Isle of Grain in Kent.

The consortium has been selected to submit a feasibility study as part of DECC's energy storage demonstration competition. If given final consent, construction work will begin this summer (2013).

The news comes as a report, published by the Centre for Low Carbon Futures (CLCF), reveals that liquid air could unlock £1bn of investment and create 22,000 UK jobs.

CLCF concludes that liquid air energy storage technology could play a critical role in Britain's low-carbon energy future – also increasing energy security and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It also expects the process technology to significantly increase the efficiency of road vehicles, particularly buses, vans and refrigerated trucks.

Highview's pilot plant has already proved that surplus electricity can be used to liquefy air, store it until needed, and then warm it to generate electricity.

The proposed grid scale plant will have an output of 6MW, with sufficient storage for around five hours of operation (30MWhs), making it the largest demonstration of new energy storage technology in the UK.

"This is a great opportunity to showcase a British innovation that has the potential to make a major contribution, in terms of helping balance electricity systems in the future," comments Gareth Brett, CEO of Highview Power.

"It does this by storing energy produced by wind and other intermittent renewable sources and giving it back to the grid when required."

"The Grain LNG import terminal is an ideal location for the project, as Highview's system can make use of the process when LNG is turned back into gas to enter the gas network," states Simon Fairman, head of development at National Grid's Grain LNG unit.

And he adds: "This helps make our import terminal and Highview's system more efficient, as well as saving money."

If the consortium's proposals are selected, engineering giant Costain will lead the construction phase of the project.

"Highview's is one of the few storage technologies that can be scaled to the size required to make an impact," states Ian Graves, power sector director for Costain.

"It also takes advantage of the National Grid's depth of engineering expertise in cryogenics."

All three companies believe that the Grain demonstration will form the template for a major UK export opportunity to other LNG terminals around the world, and that this first commercial plant will showcase the technology in a global market opportunity worth billions of pounds.

Highview Power Storage has had two multi-megawatt projects successfully put through to the feasibility stage of DECC's Energy Storage Technology Demonstration Competition. Beyond the National Grid and Costain scheme, it is also proposing another involving Viridor.

"Energy storage has the potential to bring significant economic benefits to the UK, but we must get better at taking our research through to commercial success," cautions David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science.

"This is why we have invested £30 million to create dedicated research facilities to develop and test new technologies. This will drive growth and put our universities and businesses at the forefront of innovation."

Brian Tinham

Related Companies
Costain Engineering & Constrct
Highview Power Storage
National Grid Co Plc

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