Liquid air the solution to wind power’s unreliability?
A solution to the most pressing problem facing large scale wind power – how to store surplus energy when the wind is blowing and release it when the weather is calm – is being presented to the public tomorrow for the first time.
UK firm Highview Power Storage has been developing a technology called liquid air energy storage for the past five years. The company's chief technology officer Dr Rob Morgan will be talking about its possibilities at a free lecture at the IMechE's headquarters in London tomorrow night.
Liquid air energy storage takes electricity from the grid at peak times, such as on windy days, and uses it to cool air until it liquefies at minus 196°C.
The liquid air can then be stored cheaply and safely until it is needed, when it is exposed to normal, ambient temperatures. The liquid immediately turns back into gas, expanding by 700 times, which is then used to turn a turbine and feed electricity back to the grid.
Dr Tim Fox, head of energy at the IMechE, said:"Liquid Air Energy Storage is a very promising technology, using our most abundant resource to solve one of the renewable energy industry's most pressing challenges.
"This is also a great example of 21st Century British engineering. The energy storage market could be worth over $100billion over the next decade and create over 100,000 jobs. These are jobs which the UK sorely needs."
Toby Peters, co founder and chief operating officer of Highview Power Storage, added: "Whereas many companies were focusing on fast response but relatively small scale battery technologies, we started out five years ago to develop a system which could deliver affordable, long duration, large scale energy storage. We identified this as the big gap in the market and today we are now seeing urgent demand for a large scale energy storage which can be deployed where pumped hydro is not viable.
"We now have a pilot plant connected to the grid and fully operational. Critically the system uses mature components so is ready to be deployed at commercial scale. With the right support, energy storage could not just help the transition to a green grid but also generate major revenue and jobs for the UK economy as well."
Dr Rob Morgan will give the first public presentation of liquid air technology at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1 Birdcage Walk, London SW1H 9JJ tomorrow night at 6pm. The lecture is free and open to all.
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