Highview Power is using Liquid Air Energy Storage at grid scale in a power plant near Manchester, England. LAES uses excess renewable energy and heat generated from other processes to store air as a liquid, then releases it as needed to power turbines. Excess energy is stored then used as needed to create electricity.
Advantages of LAES over other energy storage is that it can be sited anywhere and uses off-the-shelf parts and proven technology. Also, it is zero emissions.
LAES technology makes use of a freely available resource – air – which is stored as a liquid and then converted back to a gas in a process that involves a 700-fold expansion in volume and produces zero emissions. This expansion releases stored energy, which drives a turbine to generate electricity. In addition to providing energy storage, the LAES plant converts waste heat to power using heat from the on-site landfill gas engines. A unique advantage of LAES technology is that plants can be located at the point of demand. No exotic metals or harmful chemicals are involved. The plant comprises mostly steel which has a lifespan of between 30 to 40 years, in comparison with just 10 years for batteries. At the end of life, an LAES plant can be decommissioned and the steel recycled.