Liquid air energy storage firm goes fundraising

Highview's pre-commercial demonstration plant is due to enter operation this summer. Image credit: Highview Power Storage.

Highview’s pre-commercial demonstration plant is due to enter operation this summer. Image credit: Highview Power Storage.

 

By Jason Deign

Highview Power Storage has launched a growth capital fundraising round amid commissioning for its first pre-commercial liquid air energy storage plant.

The 20-strong UK company is looking for an unspecified amount of cash but will most likely not be talking to venture capital (VC) investors, head of business development Matthew Barnett told Energy Storage Report.

“Rather than going down the VC route, we’re sticking with high-net-worth angel investors and strategic investors,” he said.

The latter group might include businesses that could add value to Highview’s offering, such as an engineering capability, a route to market or complementary technology, said Barnett.

“If a VC came up with GBP£15m then that’s a different story, but there’s a time and a place for a VC to be involved,” he continued. “Maybe we’re entering that now, maybe we’re not.
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The promise of seabed storage

hat offshore energy storage systems could be used alongside the wind farms and tidal and wave arrays taking shape off our coasts. Photo credit: MIT

With renewable energy increasingly being located at sea, its worth asking what offshore energy storage systems could be used alongside the wind farms and tidal and wave arrays. Photo credit: MIT

The renewable energy storage concept announced by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) earlier this year is quite literally a load of balls. Aimed at storing excess power from offshore wind farms, says MIT: “The key to this concept is the placement of huge concrete spheres on the seafloor under the turbines.
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Compressed air expands

Isothermal compressed air energy storage (ICAES) technology enables a site-anywhere, zero-emissions storage solution. Photo credit: SustainX

Isothermal compressed air energy storage (ICAES) technology enables a site-anywhere, zero-emissions storage solution. Photo credit: SustainX

It looks like compressed air energy storage (CAES) may have come of age as a utility-scale technology, with SustainX pushing the button on its 1.5MW installation in New Hampshire, US, last week. The isothermal plant is the first of its kind to go live, and thus the first bulk-scale CAES project that does not require additional fuel such as natural gas to reheat the compressed air on its release cycle.
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CAES site in Washington state?

Yakima – the proposed location for a new CAES site.

Yakima – the proposed location for a new CAES site. Photo credit: Abhinaba Basu

Days after SustainX’s announcement of a new compressed air energy storage (CAES) project comes the news that another site is being considered for a more conventional form of the technology. A layer of porous rock below the Yakima River Canyon could be ideal for storing the vast quantities of compressed gas needed, reports the Yakima Herald.
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CAES: ‘dramatic growth’ in next decade

According to a new report from Navigant Research, more than 11GW of compressed air energy storage (CAES) capacity will be installed worldwide from 2013 to 2023. Growth in the sector will partly be driven by advances in isothermal, or adiabatic, CAES, which can be sited anywhere and conveniently scaled using modular units, says Navigant.
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Huge CAES project gets go-ahead

Dresser-Rand Group has been awarded a contract to supply equipment for a 317MW compressed air energy storage (CAES) facility by Apex Compressed Air Energy Storage. The deal is worth around a cool USD$200m and the CAES facility will be built near Tennessee Colony, Texas. Named the Apex Bethel Energy Centre, it is noteworthy for being the first CAES facility to be built in the United States since 1991.
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New routes to compressed air storage

Enough Northwest US wind energy to power about 85,000 homes each month could be stored in porous rocks deep underground for later use, according to a new study. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Bonneville Power Administration have identified two unique methods for this energy storage approach, and two eastern Washington locations to put them into practice.

The world’s two existing compressed air energy storage plants (one in Alabama, the other in Germany) use man-made salt caverns to store excess electricity. The study examined a different approach: using natural, porous rock reservoirs that are deep underground to store renewable energy. Analysis identified two particularly promising locations in eastern Washington.

One could access a nearby natural gas pipeline, making it a good fit for a conventional compressed air energy facility. The other, however, doesn’t have easy access to natural gas. So the research team devised a hybrid facility would extract geothermal heat from deep underground to power a chiller that would cool the facility’s air compressors, making them more efficient. Geothermal energy would re-heat the air as it returns to the surface.

Compressed air energy storage – for cars

We’ve all heard of CAES (compressed air energy storage). Normally, the expression brings grid-scale operations involving vast underground caverns to mind or, at the very least, a substantial plant such as LightSail’s headline-making design. But French automaker PSA, owner of both Peugeot and Citroen, thinks CAES can be used as a replacement for battery power in hybrid vehicles.

The proposed vehicle would have a conventional petrol engine, paired with a hydraulic motor, driven by air from a high-pressure tank and which would come into play during low speed urban driving. The first prototype is slated for 2016, with a combined economy of 117 mpg.

But this is not the first time that compressed air has been suggested for running vehicles. As an example, Tata’s MiniCAT (Compressed Air Technology) is a very lightweight car that was scheduled to flood the streets of India in the summer of 2011, then at the end of last year – and now this. It remains to be seen if France’s air-powered car will share the same fate.