World first ‘frozen air’ storage goes commercial

Generating energy from the air we breathe is now a step closer as the world’s first pilot plant for liquid energy storage (LAES) has been commercialised. Designed by a British […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Generating energy from the air we breathe is now a step closer as the world’s first pilot plant for liquid energy storage (LAES) has been commercialised.

Designed by a British firm, the new process has only been tested at the pilot plant in Slough but it could now spread after getting a vote of confidence from the Messer Group last week.

The German industrial gases company has signed up for exclusive rights to use the cryogenic energy storage technology in their industrial gas markets.

The process works by cooling air until it becomes a liquid, when it is stored and then heated back to become a gas. This gas is pumped at pressure to turn a turbine, creating energy.

Highview Power Storage, the UK technology developer behind the LAES says it is one of only a few technologies which can be delivered today at the 50 to 100MW scale with hundreds of megawatt hours (MWh) of energy stored.

Gareth Brett, CEO of Highview said: “With our pilot plant built out and fully operational last year, signing our first commercial agreements was always the next key step. We now have specific feasibility studies and front end engineering work to undertake but I am confident that we shall see the ground being broken for the first multi-MW plants next year.”

While today another firm, Basil Read Energy signed up to develop the technology for the South African market.