First long-duration storage system for the USA

26 February 2020

In December Highview Power and Encore Renewable Energy announced plans to develop the first liquid air energy storage system in the United States.

The Highview Power Storage liquid air energy storage system, to be developed in co- operation with Vermont-based integrated energy services company Encore Renewable Energy, will have a rating of at least 50 MW, will provide in excess of eight hours of storage (400 MWh) and will be located in northern Vermont.

The project is the first of many utility-scale, similar energy storage projects that Highview Power plans to develop across the United States to help scale up renewable energy deployment. The Vermont facility will contribute to resolving the longstanding energy transmission challenges surrounding the state’s Sheffield-Highgate Export Interface (SHEI) and enable the efficient transport of excess power from renewable energy sources to help integrate them on the power grid.

The Highview system is not a chemically based technology, but operates using a thermodynamic cycle that can interface with co-located thermal processes such as LNG regasification plants, peaking plants and industrial applications.

This means it can utilise waste heat and cold streams, improving the efficiency of the processes it is linked to by converting their waste thermal energy into a useful resource.

Transmission services

In addition to supplying what is said to be cost-efficient energy storage, the facility is intended to provide valuable services to the area’s transmission system to help integrate renewable energy, stabilise the regional electrical grid, and ensure future energy security during storms and other disruptions. This includes the ability to store energy for weeks at what Highview says is the lowest levelised cost of long duration storage in the industry, and providing what is called “grid-synchronous inertia,” which balances electrical demand and supply and helps avoid blackouts. Other services the facility can deliver include market arbitrage, frequency management, reserve, and grid constraint management services. Highview Power and Encore are in discussions with potential utility and transmission grid operator customers regarding the capabilities and services the facility can provide.

Salvatore Minopoli, vice president of Highview Power USA, said the company has strategically sought partners in the US that are renewable energy market leaders with experience in developing large- scale projects. “With their expertise in community-scale solar PV systems, traditional battery storage applications and solutions for the redevelopment of under-utilised properties, Encore Renewable Energy is a perfect partner for us as we continue expanding our technology in the United States,” Minopoli said.

“[This] technology offers a unique, cost effective solution for unleashing a greater amount of cost-efficient renewable energy generation in transmission constrained areas,” said Chad Farrell, founder and CEO of Encore Renewable Energy. “It will also allow for fewer curtailments and provide important energy balancing services for the rapidly evolving modern grid; all of which are extremely important as we look to build the infrastructure required to support a robust clean energy economy.”

The storage system

The proprietary technology uses liquefied air as the storage medium and can deliver from 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy. It has a lifespan of 30 to 40 years. Developed using proven components from mature industries, it delivers long duration energy storage capabilities without geographical constraints and can be configured to convert waste heat and cold to power. Excess or off-peak electricity is used to clean and compress air which is then stored in liquid form in insulated tanks at temperatures approaching –196 C. When electricity is in high demand and more valuable, the pressurised gas is allowed to warm and expanded through a turbine to generate electricity.

The system, called CRYOBattery, generates zero emissions, has zero water impact and is said to be deliverable at a cost approximately half that of traditional lithium-ion batteries. At utility-scale and paired with renewables it is said to be equivalent in performance to fossil fuel powered thermal and nuclear baseload power.

The market

The US energy storage market is expected to surge over 700% to nearly $5.4 billion by 2024, driven mostly by utility- scale projects, according to analysts Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

The Highview Power cryogenic energy storage system consists of three main processes: a charging system, an energy store, and power recovery
Table 1. Salient features of various storage systems, as assessed by Highview

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