Highview targets Chile

27 June 2019

Chile’s 100% renewables plan? No problem says Highview thanks to liquid-air-based storage technology.

Cryogenic energy storage developer Highview Power sees Chile as a promising market for its ‘giga-scale’ long-duration technology, and says it is encouraging the Chilean government to announce an increase in its 2050 renewable energy goals to 100% before the COP25 UN climate talks, to be held in Santiago in December 2019.

“Our company shares Chile’s ambitious goals for a 100% renewable energy future”, says Javier Cavada, CEO of Highview Power, “and our cryogenic storage technology can help the Chilean energy market achieve clean energy targets faster – and more cost-effectively – with clean solutions that are affordable, scalable and built for the long term.”

Highview Power says its planned “expansion into Chile comes at a crucial time for the country as growing energy demand, high electricity costs, and changing consumption patterns require energy solutions that are clean, reliable and cost-efficient while supporting the nation’s grid, providing critical backup power during power outages and natural disasters and solving problems for key industries, like mining.”

Chile is currently implementing its 2050 Energy Strategy, which commits the country to renewable energy targets of at least 60% by 2035 and 70% by 2050 for electricity generation. The costs for renewable energy continue to drop dramatically as the country gradually phases out coal plants without carbon capture and energy storage, notes Highview.

Highview Power describes its cryogenic technology as the only long-duration energy storage solution available today that is “locatable” (in contrast with pumped storage) and able to operate at giga-scale for long duration – weeks, not just hours or days. Its proprietary technology, employing liquid air as the storage medium, can deliver anywhere from 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh, the company says, with an estimated plant lifetime of 30 to 40 years.

Highview says it is “proving that with the right technology and solutions, renewables can meet baseload (24-hour per day) demand and complement and ultimately replace thermal and nuclear baseload, in addition to supporting the electricity transmission and distribution systems while providing additional security of supply”, noting that Chile is ideal for baseload renewable energy due to its rapidly growing solar market, which constituted 9.4% of Chile’s power generation in 2019.

Mining – particularly copper mining – dominates energy consumption in the country, but high energy costs are hindering economic development and international investment. While the existing grid is strong, Chile needs an additional 8000 MW by 2020 just to meet the mining sector’s rising demand, a challenge that is further compounded by the lack of new energy facilities coming online. 

Highview Power believes its expansion into Chile will help replace diesel back-up generators – which it characterises “as both expensive and difficult to transport to remote mining areas” – with cryogenic energy storage plants that are “locatable anywhere.”

As markets around the world focus on drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions, there is an accelerated shutdown of traditional coal-fired power stations and massive deployment of intermittent renewable energy plants (mostly solar PV and wind), Highview observes. “This is causing grid reliability issues that are dependent on weather conditions, which drives demand for long-duration energy storage to ensure a stable and reliable grid.” The global market for long-duration energy storage could be as much as $1.1 trillion by 2040,

Cryogenic energy storage plants – besides being “the most suitable solution to balance renewables and enable reliable renewable baseload power” – also “support and accelerate the energy transition when combined with traditional thermal power plants” and are able to “make use of waste heat and cold in their process which enables even more affordable and sustainable power production”, contends Highview Power.

“When shutting down and dismantling old power stations, the existing infrastructure and connections left behind become the perfect location to install cryogenic energy storage plants, solving the challenge of integrating massive amounts of renewables while retiring traditional assets. 

BYD in charge

As a further demonstration of Chile’s environmental aspirations in the run-up to COP25, another 183 BYD pure electric buses have been ordered for Santiago, due to arrive in August 2019. These will join the 100 electric buses that BYD and local partner Enel introduced to Santiago in December 2018 (pictured below). With the latest batch of vehicles there will be a total fleet of 411 electric buses operating in the capital, making Santiago the city with the largest pure electric bus fleet outside China. The new buses can seat up to 38 passengers each and travel 250 km on a single charge. They are equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and USB ports, BYD notes.

BYD, since its inception in 1995 as a rechargeable battery maker, has become one of China’s largest privately owned enterprises, and promotes what it calls a Zero Emissions Energy Ecosystem – comprising “affordable solar power generation, reliable energy storage, and cutting-edge electrified transportation.” 

Highview Power’s 5 MW/15 MWh liquid air energy storage commercial demonstrator, Pilsworth, UK

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