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World’s largest cold energy storage plant commissioned

Cold (or cryogenic) energy storage promises to be revolutionary, in terms of energy supply, and also aid the environment at the same time through recycling material. A cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables, or off-peak generation. This is undertaken by chilling air into liquid form, where, at minus 190 degrees Celsius, the air condenses into a pale blue mobile liquid. When the liquid is stored (in a special insulated tank) and later heated up, the air expands and this can power a turbine to generate electricity.

The video below explains more about the process:

While such a process has been attempted on a small scale (and cryogens have been used to power cars) the new facility takes the concept and places it on a significant commercial footing. The Manchester facility, once completed, will generate power up to 5 megawatts, which will be sufficient to power around 5,000 homes for up to three hours per day. This means, in the short term, the plant would support conventional power stations when demand peaks.

The new facility is being designed and run by a company called Highview Power Storage. The company had previously worked with the University of Leeds to build a pilot facility, which took the form of a 300 kW storage capacity plant.

Furthering the environmental theme the Highview Power facility will be located alongside the Pilsworth landfill gas generation site, which burns methane gas produced from decomposing rubbish to generate electricity. The new facility will be able to collect waste heat from this process and this will be used to add to the efficiency of the cryogenic process.

With the new facility, Gareth Brett from Highview Power explained to BBC Science: “Our technology is a bit like a locatable version of a pumped hydro system. Anywhere that needs large scale long-duration storage, that might be to help integrate an offshore wind farm, a system like ours can help achieve that.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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