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Energy storage: Construction begins on world’s largest liquid air battery

One of the biggest hurdles limiting the widespread use of renewable energy is storage. In the UK, however, engineers are now developing the world’s largest liquid air battery, which will store renewable electricity and reduce carbon emissions from fossil-fuel power plants.

Located near Manchester, UK, the new project will use leftover green energy to compress air into liquid form and store it. When demand is higher, the liquid air is released back into a gas, powering a turbine, feeding the green energy back into the grid.

The new liquid air battery, being developed by Highview Power, is expected to be operational in 2022 and will be able of powering 200,000 homes for a whole day and storing renewable energy for weeks on end.

This is a great feat for energy storage, considering that chemical batteries – which are also needed for the transition to a zero-carbon world – can only store relatively small amounts of electricity for short periods. The battery will also store 250MWh of energy, almost double the amount stored by the biggest chemical battery, built by Tesla.

The development project is also creating 200 jobs, mainly in construction, employing former oil and gas engineers. The plant’s lifetime is expected to be 30-40 years.

A big expansion of wind and solar energy is vital to tackle the climate emergency but they are not always available. Storage is therefore key and the new project will be the largest in the world outside of pumped hydro schemes, which require a mountain reservoir to store water.

Highview is developing other sites in the UK, continental Europe, and the US, including in Vermont, but the Manchester project will be the first of its kind.

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