So far, pumped storage has been the only viable solution to meet with peak demand in the UK, but it is expensive to build and it is restricted to hilly areas. Highview is betting on Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) as an effective and scalable alternative.
LAES More cost-effective
Highview Power Storage, a UK supplier of large-scale Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) systems uses liquefied air as a storage medium. The liquid air systems have no geographical restrictions and as a result, energy can be stored close to the areas of demand. In addition, it is cheaper than Pumped Storage, and the solution can be fully integrated into the existing infrastructure.
Once the liquid air is reheated, it expands significantly (1 litre of liquid air becomes more than 700 litres of gaseous air) providing the momentum to drive turbines which will generate electricity and support the grid during period of peak demand.
Having developed the process and proven its commercial and technical viability, Highview built a fully operational pilot plant in Slough, United Kingdom.
At the beginning of this year, the Department of Energy and Climate Change awarded Highview over £8million to build a commercial scale Liquid Air Energy Storage system. The project, hosted by Viridor, one of the UK’s leading Waste Management companies, will come online mid 2015.
Highview already has cooperation agreements in place with industry giants such as General Electric (US) and Messer Group (Germany). The Messer partnership is more about accessing Messer’s expertise in industrial gases than it is about project development.
A novel solution for energy security
With the pilot plant acting as a ‘shop window’, Highview will use the funds, raised through the crowd-funding campaign, to enter the first commercial stage of its development cycle.
The funding round is led by a group of independent angel investors brought to Highview by Opus Corporate Finance, who have committed close to £200K. Further equity will be sold to SyndicateRoom members interested in investing a minimum of £1000. Existing investors in Highview include two former Chairmen of FTSE100 electric utilities, and two former heads of energy and utility corporate finance teams in leading international investment banks.
Gonçalo de Vasconcelos, founder and CEO, SyndicateRoom, commented: “Highview offers a novel solution to a very real problem. In January of this year, Olympics chief and Labour party adviser on infrastructure Sir John Armitt said that there was a genuine risk of the lights going out, with surplus energy capacity down from 25% to 4%.
“Whilst renewable energy sources such as wind power can generate additional power, the energy is often generated at times when we’re not experiencing high demand. The problem then becomes how to store it. Luckily for us, Highview’s liquid storage system provides a solution.”
Highview is keen to expand into the US where the 1.3-gigawatt energy storage mandate in California is attracting various technologies.[Engerati-California’s Energy Storage Mandate-Will Others Follow?]