Pioneering “Liquid Air” Project Can Help Store Excess Electricity

(From The Guardian)

A pioneering project in north-west England will turn air into liquid for energy storage to help electricity grids cope with a growing amount of wind and solar power.

The world’s first full-scale “liquid air” plant is based on a technology that advocates say is cheaper and able to provide power for longer periods than lithium-ion batteries.

The demonstration scheme next to a landfill site in Bury, Greater Manchester, uses excess or off-peak electricity to chill air to -196C, transforming it to a liquid state to be stored inside large metal tanks.

Pumping and heating is used later to turn it back to a gas, which is released to turn a turbine, generating electricity at times of need – but without burning the gas and releasing emissions.

While relatively small at 5 megawatts (MW) compared to 50MW lithium-ion battery facilities being built by firms such as EDF Energy, Highview Power said the technology could be scaled up to hundreds of megawatts.

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