Storage System Turning Electricity into Liquid Air Starts Construction

The 250-MWh CRYOBattery will help to power the grid at peak times.
Chris Young

A new energy storage project in the UK has started construction and is on its way to becoming one of Europe's largest energy storage systems.

The 250-MWh CRYOBattery turns ambient air into liquid via a cryogenic cooling technology that enables energy to be stored for longer periods of time than traditional batteries.


The CRYOBattery

The CRYOBattery, which is under construction just outside the city of Manchester, used a process called air liquefaction to store energy: ambient air is drawn into the system, compressed, and then cooled to reach temperatures of -320°F (-196°C).

The cryogenic energy storage technology, developed by co-operator Highview Power, can be stored for long periods with high efficiency in low-pressure insulated tanks.

In order to extract energy from the tanks, the liquid air is heated up so that it rapidly expands into gas. The sudden increase in volume drives a turbine that generates electricity.

As this process offers longer-term energy storage when compared to traditional batteries, it could play a large role in the future of renewable energy.

Ensuring future energy

"Our facility will deliver much needed clean, reliable and cost-efficient long duration energy storage to the National Grid," Javier Cavada, Highview Power CEO and President explained in a press release. "The CRYOBattery will help the UK to integrate renewable energy and stabilize the regional electrical grid to ensure future energy security during blackouts and other disruptions."

As New Atlas reports, HighView Power has previously built two demonstrator plants in the UK, though the new 50-MW/250-MWh project in Carrington Village just eight miles (13 km) outside Manchester will be its biggest effort yet.

The company received a £10 million ($13.2 million) government grant to build the facility. Construction is already underway on the project, and a visitor center is expected to open in the first quarter of 2021, allowing interested parties to check out the innovative energy storage facility.

The facility is expected to store enough energy to run approximately 50,000 homes for five hours, the BBC reports. HighView Power estimates that the CRYOBattery will be commercially operative by 2023.

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