Air turns to liquid when refrigerated to -196°C at ambient pressure, and can be stored in standard insulated, low-pressure industrial-type vessels at very large scale. Exposure to ambient temperatures causes rapid re-gasification and a 700-fold expansion in volume, which is used to drive a turbine and generate electricity.
LAES technology combines 3 existing technologies; industrial gas production, cryogenic liquid storage and expansion of pressurized gases. The components of a LAES system can be readily sourced from large OEMs and have proven lifetimes and performances.
LAES is large scale (15MWh to 1GWh+), geographically flexible, environmentally benign (no toxic materials, zero emissions), and energy dense – resulting in a small footprint.
LAES has a low lifetime cost due to long life (30+ yrs) and no electrochemical degradation. This results in a highly competitive Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE)* of $150-250/MWh.
In common with all energy storage systems, our LAES system comprises of three primary processes: a charging system; an energy store; and a power recovery unit. Uniquely, these can be scaled independently to optimize the system for different applications.
*The Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE) is a measure of a power source which attempts to compare different methods of electricity generation on a comparable basis. DOE/EPRI 2013 Electricity Storage Handbook, pg.154 http://www.sandia.gov/ess/publications/SAND2013-5131.pdf
In 2013, BHGE and Highview Power Storage signed a global licensing and technology collaboration agreement to develop the integration of Highview’s LAES technology into its peaker plant offering.
Highview Power Storage is a privately owned, award-winning technology company located in London, UK. Highview has developed and owns the Intellectual Property to its proprietary, large scale long duration Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) system. The system can simultaneously convert low-grade waste heat into power during the discharge cycle, further increasing the overall efficiency.
Peaker Plant Application
BHGE is integrating Highview’s LAES technology through the award of feasibility studies at peaking power plants and other applications where GE’s gas turbines and gas engines are currently or will be installed.
LAES systems will help to increase power plant efficiency and flexibility, thereby enhancing grid reliability and the distribution of renewable energy.
Customers will benefit from significant advantages, including improved startup times and efficiency/heat rates, as well as offering waste-heat-to-power and energy storage capabilities.
GigaPlant and Other Applications
At utility scale, LAES technology is a competitive solution when compared to other storage technologies. The 200MW/1.2GWh ‘GigaPlant’ can be delivered at low cost and located where required.
LAES plants can also be co-located with renewable plants storing intermittent renewable energy for use at times of peak demand as well as industrial plants enabling it to integrate low-grade waste heat from steel mills and also waste cold from LNG plants improving the roundtrip efficiency.