World's biggest liquid air battery under construction in Greater Manchester

Construction on the world's largest liquid air battery is beginning in Trafford this week, after the project secured a £10m grant from the UK Government.

Pictured: An artist's impression of the completed project. Image: Carlton Highview Storage

Pictured: An artist's impression of the completed project. Image: Carlton Highview Storage

The 50MW project will take excess renewable energy from the adjacent Trafford Energy Park and use it to compress air into a liquid for storage. Then, when electricity demands rise, the air will be converted back into a gas and used to power a turbine. Existing substation and transmission infrastructure will be used to facilitate this process.

Using liquid air as opposed to lithium-ion batteries allegedly enables longer storage times and increased storage capacity, while mitigating issues relating to longevity and the circular economy.

Developers Highview Power and Carlton Power expect the project to come online in 2022, providing power to up to 200,000 homes for up to five hours at a time. It will initially have a 50MW capacity and a minimum output of 250MWh. The two firms are hoping to jointly bring 1GW of cryogenic liquid air capacity online in the UK.

“This new cryogenic energy storage plant will deliver much needed long-duration energy storage and provide valuable services to the National Grid,” Highview Power’s chief executive Javier Cavada said.

“We are delighted to have been chosen to assist the UK in achieving its goal of a 100% clean, carbon-free energy future.”

According to the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the UK will need to quadruple its renewable energy generation capacity by 2050 if it is to reach its net-zero target. Due to the intermittency of renewable generation methods, a significant increase in energy storage capacity will be needed to complement this transition.

Battery boon?

In related news, Thurrock Power has this month submitted plans to build a 600MW battery on land adjacent to Thurrock’s Tilbury substation.

Thurrock Power is a subsidiary of Stratera, which last year struck a deal with Statkraft to bring a gigawatt of new battery storage projects online by 2025.

If permission is granted for the project, it will fulfil the majority of that commitment and will be the UK’s largest battery array by a considerable margin.

The plans have been submitted at a time when large-scale battery storage schemes are facing a Europe-wide slowdown, due to the economic impacts of Covid-19 and the disruption which the pandemic has caused for supply chains.

Nonetheless, the beginning of 2020 saw several key projects announced in the battery space. Shell had its plans for a 100MW grid storage battery in Wiltshire approved in February and, less than a week later, Pivot Power confirmed an order for two 50MW battery storage arrays, to be located in Oxfordshire and Kent respectively.

Batteries are expected to receive additional policy support in the UK’s Covid-19 recovery package, due to be announced before the end of June. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the plan will involve “a lot more funding” for “green technology, green batteries, green motor vehicles and low-carbon motor vehicles of all kinds.”

Further afield, Total is currently developing France’s largest energy storage system and hopes the project will come online in late 2020.

Sarah George



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