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BBC Puff For Cryogenic Storage

December 10, 2016
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By Paul Homewood




The BBC never give up, do they?


The world’s largest cold energy storage plant is being commissioned at a site near Manchester.

The cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables or off-peak generation by chilling air into liquid form.

When the liquid air warms up it expands and can drive a turbine to make electricity.

The 5MW plant near Manchester can power up to 5,000 homes for around three hours.

The company behind the scheme, Highview Power Storage, believes that the technology has great potential to be scaled up for long-term use with green energy sources.

Peaks and troughs

Electricity demand varies, influenced by factors like time of day and season. The National Grid is prepared for surges in demand, with power stations on stand-by ready to crank up the power.

However, dealing with these peaks and troughs will become increasingly difficult as coal-fired power stations close down and more intermittent renewable energy like wind and solar comes online. In 2015 renewables provided almost a quarter of UK electricity.


So it is capable of powering homes for three hours. WOW!

And what happens when the wind stops blowing for three days?


And if you thought that using electricity to compress air, which you can then use to produce electricity, might cost a lot of money, you would probably be right.

The operator, Highview Power, offer this Cost Estimator on their website. It suggests that capital expenditure for a 100MW plant would be $136 million.

Note also the round trip efficiency of 60%, which presumably means that you lose 40% of the power you put in at the start.






Don’t run away with the idea either that this is any sort of commercial operation. As the Highview website explains:

 Highview and project partners, energy and waste management company, Viridor, were awarded funding from the British Government Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), to build a 5MW Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) technology system.


But there again, it’s only taxpayers’ money.

  1. martinbrumby permalink
    December 10, 2016 7:04 pm

    Must be simpler and more effective to cut out all the middle-men and just power a turbine by burning £20 notes.
    After all, you can always get that nice Mr. Carney to print some more!

  2. markl permalink
    December 10, 2016 7:06 pm

    Just another alternative to fossil fuels to prove it can be done. This is nothing but an exercise in ideology that is impractical and probably won’t even be hooked to the grid. A waste of money, space, and time. But they knew that and sucked in our money anyway because after all….. it was there for the asking.

    • Annie permalink
      December 11, 2016 4:25 am

      Not for the asking: for the taking.

  3. December 10, 2016 7:49 pm

    Their own estimator says cost/kwh is $340!!! Beyond DOA. How on earth did DECC give them funding for a pilot plant with that cost estimate? It would not be viable at $0.34/kwh, as the average in UK 2011 was $0.20/kwh. Off by >three orders of magnitude, a thousand fold. Maybe nobody at DECC can do simple arithmetic.

    • Curious George permalink
      December 10, 2016 8:19 pm

      Corruption is more likely than incompetence.

      • Gamecock permalink
        December 11, 2016 1:46 pm

        “Don’t assume bad intentions over neglect and misunderstanding.” – Hanlon’s Razor

        But it could be corruption.

  4. HotScot permalink
    December 10, 2016 7:57 pm

    Have I got this right?

    £136M is spent on a plant that remains, to all practical intents and purposes, redundant for the majority of the year, indeed, we would all hope it would remain redundant 100% of the time.

    So if there are, very roughly, 25M homes in the UK, would it mean 5,000 of these units are required countrywide to make up for the failings of wind, wave and solar power?

    In which case, are we set to spend around £680,000,000,000 over the coming years for ‘generators’ that provide 3 hours of electricity?

    How much does a gas fired power station cost again?

    And has anyone been in touch with The Taxpayers Alliance about all this?

    Or am I just going insane?

  5. December 10, 2016 8:08 pm

    For far less money a reciprocating gas engine does a much better job.

    “If the grid needs extra power 10 minutes from now – these generator sets can easily adjust to that need.”

    • December 10, 2016 9:13 pm

      My condo tower in Fort Lauderdale has a natural gas reciprocating engine gen set. They are called spark ignited diesels here, requiring only slight modifications to off the shelf regular big diesels. All gas stations nd frocery stores are required to have the in south Florida after the 2005 Katrina/Wima hurricane disasters. Very nice for emergency power where diesel emissions are problematic, and no fuel tank capacity concerns. But very expensive and impractical for grid scale standby generation except under unusual circumstances. The ‘right’ UK grid answer is flexible CCGT for baseload and load following, plus some less expensive OCGT for occaisional peaking. Neither is viable as new conatruction given UK’s crazy subsidy plus feed in priority for wind. As the just completed capacity auction has proven again.

  6. December 10, 2016 9:16 pm

    I think the 340 cost per kWhr is cap-cost for storage, not energy delivery. No?

    • December 11, 2016 10:51 am

      Working the calculations back, it appears to be the cost per KWh, if it is only cycled once.

      Not sure what relevance that has though!!

  7. David Richardson permalink
    December 10, 2016 10:45 pm

    Looks good enough for Government work as us civil servants (ex) say.

  8. December 10, 2016 11:52 pm

    During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.
    -George Orwell

  9. tom0mason permalink
    December 11, 2016 1:45 am

    So you take some off-peak electricity (probably costing the lowest), you power some compressor pumps to store some liquid air then on the windfarm lulls you can supply 3 hours (max) of electricity at £340/kWh from this dangerous and yet to be proved technology. (No problems with icing up or water build-up?)

    Why not stop all this nonsense and just build some proper conventional generator plants and off-set the carbon by contracting some British Commonwealth counties to grow a couple forest or three?

  10. Ex-expat Colin permalink
    December 11, 2016 7:56 am

    So they throw nearly half the input away on the round trip..the free stuff? Burn power to freeze/defreeze and output at £340/Kwh? I signed up to about 13 pence/Kwh last month so the subsidy is about £339.87 + transmission costs? FFS!! Oh…forgot the VAT

    Need to send at least 74 questions to Theresa

  11. AlecM permalink
    December 11, 2016 10:48 am

    60% round-trip efficiency means it has to use an isoentropic heat exchanger, hich is very expensive.

    There is just one such system – in the USA, and it is heavily subsidised.

  12. Derek Buxton permalink
    December 11, 2016 11:44 am

    Back in the time when I was gainfully employed, I did a lot of work with British Oxygen, Air Products and L’Air Liquide. All were building “tonnox Plants” for the steel industry and we supplied some large valves for part of the system. The plants ranged from 100 tons/day 99% pure Oxygen to the biggest I saw of 400tons/day at I think Port Talbot. They cooled the intake air in the first instance through a pair of “regenerators”, one taking ambient air whilst the other was flushed out with very cold waste nitrogen. Then they compressed to cold air and then released it through a turbine to suddenly cool it. All so Boyles and Charles law., but it worked but I doubt it was cheap even then. Now, with the deliberately high price of energy it is probably stupid.
    Incidently, this makes two strange ideas in the week. The other being the one where a helicopter is going to spray hot water on wind turbine blades. And god luck with that, last I heard, helicopters are expensive to run and they have to heat the water in the open.

  13. Derek Buxton permalink
    December 11, 2016 11:47 am

    Sorry, slight mistake, line 7 should read “compressed the cold air”

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