10 votes

Construction begins on world’s biggest liquid air battery

6 comments

  1. [3]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    I'm no expert, but some quick online research suggests this article is just bad, full of errors, confused on the tech, missing critical info. This is a LAES system (liquid air, aka cryo-storage),...

    I'm no expert, but some quick online research suggests this article is just bad, full of errors, confused on the tech, missing critical info.

    This is a LAES system (liquid air, aka cryo-storage), air is cooled to liquid and stored. The article (wrongly, I think) says the air is compressed. That would be a CAES (compressed air) system, which has to deal with issues of heat generated during compression, and/or cold during re-expansion.

    Here are two other articles, both better. The first is about the same project, the 2nd is 2 years old about earlier pilot projects by the same company.

    https://www.energy-storage.news/news/fossil-fuel-plant-in-england-will-get-250mwh-liquid-air-energy-storage-make

    https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/06/liquid-air-energy-storage-the-latest-new-battery-on-the-uk-grid/

    Both articles also dig into the energy storage efficiency, and the pros and cons of this system, compared to lithium batteries ... which the Guardian article also completely skipped.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      skybrian
      Link Parent
      Interesting. They say it scales up well too? It seems like the could be pretty important. But there are a lot of energy storage projects and it's hard to say who will win.

      Interesting. They say it scales up well too? It seems like the could be pretty important.

      But there are a lot of energy storage projects and it's hard to say who will win.

      3 votes
      1. Eric_the_Cerise
        Link Parent
        I don't think of it as 'which one wins'. Anything that's renewable and sustainable wins in my book. Beyond that, it depends on so many factors, which tech is best in which places and which uses....

        I don't think of it as 'which one wins'. Anything that's renewable and sustainable wins in my book. Beyond that, it depends on so many factors, which tech is best in which places and which uses.

        This seems to be lower efficiency than lithium, and it's definitely much slower for start-up. The big plus is the relatively long-term storage and, yeah, economies of scale. So day-to-day peaker plant use (like Tesla's in Australia), lithium wins. For larger projects, and/or longer-term storage (perhaps as adjunct to solar on bad-weather days), this might be better.

        4 votes
  2. [3]
    skybrian
    Link
    From the article: [...] [...]

    From the article:

    The project near Manchester, UK, will use spare green energy to compress air into a liquid and store it. When demand is higher, the liquid air is released back into a gas, powering a turbine that puts the green energy back into the grid.

    [...]

    The Highview battery will store 250MWh of energy, almost double the amount stored by the biggest chemical battery, built by Tesla in South Australia. The new project is sited at the Trafford Energy Park, also home to the Carrington gas-powered energy plant and a closed coal power station.

    [...]

    Highview is developing other sites in the UK, continental Europe and the US, including in Vermont, but the Manchester project will be the first.

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      whbboyd
      Link Parent
      For comparison, the Tom Sauk pumped storage facility (essentially a hydroelectric power station whose reservoir is filled by pumps, rather than natural water flow) has a capacity of 3,600MWh, and...

      The Highview battery will store 250MWh of energy

      For comparison, the Tom Sauk pumped storage facility (essentially a hydroelectric power station whose reservoir is filled by pumps, rather than natural water flow) has a capacity of 3,600MWh, and is roughly 70% efficient (compared to cryo energy storage, which is apparently closer to 50% efficient overall). There are significant siting considerations for pumped energy storage (and Tom Sauk in particular had a very bad accident), but it's dirt-simple and scales up to as big as you care to make your reservoir. IMO, pumped storage is tough to compete with.

      2 votes
      1. emdash
        Link Parent
        It's quite easy to dismiss pumped storage if you remotely care about minimising environmental damage, or geotechnical siting locations though—a good example of this is New Zealand's South Island....

        IMO, pumped storage is tough to compete with.

        It's quite easy to dismiss pumped storage if you remotely care about minimising environmental damage, or geotechnical siting locations though—a good example of this is New Zealand's South Island. We've destroyed and permanently scarred some of the most beautiful locations in it just to build dams for electricity generation, and canals to support large water irrigation schemes. Granted, powering the majority of the country off of clean hydroelectricity is a pretty worthwhile accomplishment—New Zealand at any one time has about an ~80% renewable energy mix (peaking at ~90%)—but it does cause untold environmental destruction.

        There's also nowhere left to build another dam or pumped hydro scheme in the country. Nowhere that wouldn't be torn down by either environmentalists or NIMBY's (I would certainly oppose such a project), or wouldn't be sited on a fault line or geotechnical hazard of some kind.

        The beauty of CAES/LAES and batteries is they are micro-scale solutions. You can build ten small 250MWh plants where they need to be, in a very short time frame, without the need for hundreds of kilometres of high voltage transmission lines dedicated to connecting the project to the grid, often in pre-existing locations without creating another scar on the planet.

        Hell, there's nothing stopping you building LAES offshore either. Site it next to an offshore wind farm and you have a zero-land damage renewable energy and storage solution.

        2 votes