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Highview and Viridor are awarded funding to scale up LAES technology

13 February 2014

The Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) system is to be demonstrated at multi-MW scale, thanks to an £8m grant awarded as part of DECC's Energy Storage Technology Demonstration Competition.

DECC minister, Greg Barker, flanked by Ian Morrish, Viridor's Landfill Energy Director (Left) and Gareth Brett, CEO, Highview Power Storage (right)

Highview Power Storage, a UK designer and developer of Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) systems, in collaboration with Viridor, one of the UK’s leading recycling, renewable energy and waste management companies, has been awarded funding for a 5MW/15MWh energy storage demonstration project by the UK government.

The funding, valued at more than £8m, has been awarded as part of the ‘Energy Storage Technology Demonstration Competition’, run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). It will support the design and testing of a pre-commercial demonstration LAES system alongside one of Viridor’s landfill gas generation plants in the UK.

The LAES system will be connected to the national grid and demonstrate the technology providing balancing services to the electricity system. In addition to providing energy storage, the LAES plant will convert waste heat to power using heat from the on-site landfill gas engines. The project is scheduled to be operational by mid 2015.

“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," says Highview’s CEO, Gareth Brett. "With our pilot plant tested and fully operational on the UK’s national grid, this new project will provide Highview with the opportunity to demonstrate the technology at commercial scale.” 

The Highview pilot plant (350kW/2.5MWh) is hosted by SSE (Scottish & Southern Energy) at its Slough Heat & Power 80MW biomass plant. The technology can be scaled to deliver large-scale, long duration energy storage from around 5MW output and 15MWh of storage capacity to significantly more than 50MW output and 200MWh of capacity.

It can be considered as being similar to medium scale pumped hydro, but without the requirement for mountains and reservoirs. In addition to storage, the technology can simultaneously convert waste heat to power.

Viridor’s Landfill Energy Director Ian Morrish welcomed today's announcement. “We are pleased to have secured funding for this important project," he said. "With ever growing pressure on natural resources, it is essential that we develop innovative and sustainable methods to generate energy not only to cut down our carbon footprint but to ensure long-term energy security. 

A CAD rendering of Highview and Viridor's 5MW (ouput) 15MWh (storage) LAES Project

“Innovation has been at the heart of successful businesses in Britain and it is great news that the government recognises and supports its development.”

Minister Greg Barker said energy storage will become increasingly important in the move towards a low carbon economy, and has the potential to save the energy system over £4 billion by 2050.

“Energy storage systems are potentially revolutionary technologies - just imagine how much the energy system will change if we’re able to manage supply and demand better by storing energy cost-effectively, not to mention the benefits for British research and manufacturing industries,” he said at a formal announcement made at the headquarters of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).

"A significant attraction of the technology is that it builds on knowledge from one established industry, that of industrial gases, to provide a solution to the challenges of another, the energy sector, and makes use of existing component supply chains thus enabling a rapid scale-up to widespread adoption across the world,” says Dr Tim Fox Head of Energy at the IMechE, which previously showcased Highview's technology

“The role of electricity storage is unquestioned by policymakers and business, now what’s needed is a strategy to deliver at least another 2 GW of installed storage capacity by 2020," says Anthony Price from the Electricity Storage Network. "The Electricity Storage Network looks forward to working with DECC to formulate the strategy for storage in the electricity markets of the UK.”

In collaboration with commercial customers (UK and abroad), Highview is currently assessing the feasibility for multi MW commercial plants for a number of applications including supporting intermittent renewables, managing peak demand, delivering security of supply and waste heat to power to large industrial users.

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