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Highview's 5MW LAES to start operations this winter

19 August 2015

The main components of Highview’s Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) 5MW pre-commercial demonstrator have been delivered to the site in Greater Manchester.

Recycling, resources and distributed energy partner, Viridor, is hosting the pre-commercial LAES technology demonstrator at its Pilsworth landfill gas generation site where the waste heat from the GE Jenbacher landfill gas engines will be used to convert waste heat to power.

In February 2015 the ground was broken and civils work started at the project preparing the site for the arrival of the main components. Over the summer the equipment has been delivered: the turbine and generator from GE, heat exchangers from Heatric, thermal storage tanks from Metalcraft and cryogenic storage tanks from BOC. All these components are currently being set in place and grouted on to their platforms, which marks the end of the major plant installation phase.

Alan Cumming, Capital Projects & Engineering Director for Viridor, said: "Viridor is transforming waste and giving the world's resources new life. This exciting, pioneering project is an excellent example of the type of partnership working that is today driving sustainability, resource and energy security."

The project was awarded more than £8 million in funding from the DECC for the design, build and testing of the LAES technology system. This is the first pre-commercial scale LAES plant of its kind and the largest new energy storage technology project in the UK being built to satisfy the requirement for long duration storage.

National Grid predicts that balancing services costs are likely to increase significantly in the coming years because of the increasing prevalence of non-synchronous generation causing a decrease in system inertia. This in turn is making the power system more expensive to manage. LAES is currently the only energy storage technology to use a clean non combustion based process to drive a synchronous generator, and hence can provide inertia without additional equipment, contributing to the resilience of the electricity system.

The  project  will  operate  for  at  least  one  year  and  will  demonstrate  LAES  providing a number of grid balancing services including Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) and supporting the grid during the winter months with peak tariff management (Triad avoidance) as well as testing for frequency regulation performance against standards required by one of the large US system operators. KiWi Power was selected to arrange the commercial aspects of the plant’s interaction with the National Grid. The plant is due to be operational towards the end of 2015. 

Highview operated a grid connected 350kW/2.5MWh pilot plant in Slough, Greater London from 2011-2014 at SSE’s 80MW biomass plant. LAES 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-electricity storage, but without the geographical restrictions of mountains and reservoirs. When scaling up LAES technology, the system will be modular and benefit from scale and convenience, an advantage when locating it to different regions and applications.

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