Highview Power’s Pilsworth liquid air energy storage project officially opens

Highview Power CEO Gareth Brett (left) inspects the Pilsworth plant with engineering director Stuart Nelmes. Image: Highview Power/YouTube.

Highview Power CEO Gareth Brett (left) inspects the Pilsworth plant with engineering director Stuart Nelmes. Image: Highview Power/YouTube.

BY MIKE STONE

A landmark liquid air energy storage (LAES) plant was officially unveiled this week with the opening of Highview Power’s grid-scale plant at Pilsworth, UK.

The project, at an energy recovery facility in Bury, Greater Manchester, showcases an energy storage technology that holds the promise of delivering hundreds of megawatts of power for multiple hours.

This is a scale and duration that, to date, only pumped hydro has been able to offer commercially. But LAES comes without pumped hydro’s geographical restrictions.

As well as storing energy as liquid air, the 5MW, 15MWh Pilsworth facility converts low-grade waste heat from GE Jenbacher landfill gas engines into power.

The project was developed in partnership with Viridor, a recycling and renewable energy company, and has been operational and exporting to the grid since April 2018.

Winter peaks and auxiliary service support

The plant will support the grid with reserve and regulation services. Hybridisation of the plant later in the summer will offer near-instantaneous response, serving frequency response markets.

Prof John Loughhead, Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, attended the ribbon cutting, underlining the UK Government’s commitment to a project backed with public money.

Initially the project attracted GBP£8m of UK government funding. In an interview with Energy Storage Report, business development director Matthew Barnett said another £1.7m was injected at the end of 2017.

Of this, £192,000 from the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund went towards installing Highview’s high-grade cold store technology.

The remaining £1.5m, from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, allowed the company to add very fast-acting frequency response to the system’s capabilities.

As previously reported, responding to grid frequency events within one second will allow the plant to meet the requirements of the UK National Grid’s fastest frequency response service provisions.

Key advantages of LAES

The plant is designed to be able to bid to supply these services to the grid in future. Barnett said LAES was suited to providing ancillary services such as frequency response, spinning reserve and black-start capability.

Also, the way Highview’s LAES technology is configured allows it to deliver long-duration storage along with these services at significantly lower cost compared to current batteries, he said.

The Pilsworth LAES plant is the culmination of 12 years of development for Highview, but it isn’t the only recent milestone for the company.

Barnett revealed that his company’s New York office was making progress in developing projects on the US East Coast and in California.

In February, Highview announced that it was collaborating with SNC-Lavalin to deploy energy storage solutions for utility-scale applications in North America.

Engineering, procurement and construction partners

“Highview has invested considerable time and effort vetting potential engineering, procurement and construction management partners,” said Highview Power CEO Gareth Brett in a press release.

The announcement was followed in March by the news that Highview had named energy executive Carl Sheldon as president of the company’s US subsidiary, spearheading market development in North America.

Previously, Sheldon was CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, where his stewardship led the company to global success in the oil and gas and power industries.

He was also the managing partner of Allen & Overy LLP’s Frankfurt and New York offices during his 25 years with the firm, advising on general international commercial and finance matters, and project financing in the energy sector.

As part of its moves to expand worldwide, Highview is also pursuing a fresh round of investment to fund growth, timed for the second half of 2018, Barnett said.

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