Interview with Energy Storage Association – Beyond Batteries

17 May 2021

What energy storage technologies beyond batteries are you developing, or seeing developed over the next decade to grow the storage market? 

Long duration energy storage, like liquid air, compressed air, and pumped hydro, will be critical in helping communities decarbonize. We need these technologies to be deployed today for current needs and future net zero goals. Renewables are expanding at a rapid pace and while ushering in a new generation of clean energy, they are also creating havoc for our grids. Long duration storage that can deliver real synchronous inertia is the critical piece of the puzzle to stabilizing the grid and enabling 24/7 renewables for a decarbonized world.

At Highview Power, we develop long duration, liquid air energy storage plants – known as the CRYOBattery™ – based on our propriety cryogenic technology that delivers clean, reliable, and low-cost, long duration storage with zero emissions. It uses liquid air as a storage medium, and is scalable technology that delivers the same giga-scale, long duration capabilities as pumped-hydro but without geographical constraints. It is sometimes referred to as “pumped hydro in a box”.

Our technology works by taking ambient air, cleaning it, and cooling it to very low temperatures where it is stored as a liquid. It is then converted back into a gaseous state which drives turbines to generate electricity when energy is needed.

Highview Power’s CRYOBattery™ is the first next gen long duration storage technology to reach commercial scale and we are currently developing a number of giga-scale energy storage plants in the United States Spain, Chile, and the United Kingdom.

What are the limitations of existing technologies that are being addressed by other and/or new technologies?

When it comes to large, giga-scale energy storage, one of biggest limitations is getting long duration storage technologies to market fast. We already have a tremendous amount of wind and solar assets and we expect massive amounts of renewables to come online in the coming years and decades. As more come online, it will further exacerbate grid reliability issues. We need policies that encourage the rapid deployment of long duration technology, today.

Costs have also traditionally been an issue when it comes to scaling energy storage. Lithium-ion is great when it comes to short duration storage. But as longer durations of storage are needed, it is simply not cost effective to add batteries. The LCOE costs for liquid air energy storage are significantly lower than lithium-ion for large scale, long duration applications and it is currently the lowest cost long duration technology available today. And with scale, costs continue to decline.

Right now, approximately 97% of installed energy storage is long duration storage with most of it coming from pumped hydro plants around the world. However, these types of facilities lack flexibility in regard to location. Location for pumped hydro plants is critical, whereas liquid air energy storage plants have not geographical constraints.

Time is of the essence – we need to deploy long duration storage technologies today, in order to get us to a decarbonized world.

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