Cryogenic storage offers hope for the success of renewable energy projects
There are peaks and troughs in energy usage and one thing that could change the industry is reliable energy storage. Electricity demand varies, influenced by factors like time of day and season. The National Grid is prepared for surges in demand, with power stations on stand-by ready to crank up the power.
However, dealing with these peaks and troughs will become increasingly difficult as coal-fired power stations close down and more intermittent renewable energy like wind and solar comes online.
The world's largest cold energy storage plant is being commissioned at a site near Manchester.
The cryogenic energy facility stores power from renewables or off-peak generation by chilling air into liquid form.
When the liquid air warms up it expands and can drive a turbine to make electricity.
The 5MW plant near Manchester can power up to 5,000 homes for around three hours but a plant from 10MW and upwards is the sort of scale needed to be truly useful.
The company behind the scheme, Highview Power Storage, believes that the technology has great potential to be scaled up for long-term use with green energy sources.
The company has already developed a much bigger cryogenic storage plant capable of 200MW that could power a city for six hours. It’s storage plants of this size that could change everything by meeting demand when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow.
Energy storage of any kind is important for the ongoing success of renewable energy projects. Along with cryogenic storage there’s also thermal storage – typically used in solar plants where energy is stored by heating water or molten salts to be used later. Compressed air, hydroelectric storage, flywheels and batteries are also all used. The technology for each of these is being developed all the time.
Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.