BBC Puff For Cryogenic Storage
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.