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Grid-scale energy storage firm to launch two US projects in 2019

Highlights

The projects will be between 50 MW and 100 MW

Plants can be scaled to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh

New York — As liquid air energy storage company Highview Power prepares to launch two US projects this year, an official said Thursday, the company has teamed up with engineering firm Citec to help scale its storage facilities from 50 MW/500 MWh to multiple GWh.

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"We will be starting two projects between 50 MW and 100 MW in the US this year," Javier Cavada, Highview CEO, said in a phone call.

Though Cavada could not discuss specific locations or customers, he said Highview is looking at the wind corridor that runs through the Midcontinent Independent System Operator's territory, as well as California, Texas and New York.

"It's ideal to mix the technology with renewable generation, but it can be located anywhere," Cavada said.

UK-based Highview Power has chosen Finland-based Citec as its engineering partner to help Highview modularize its GW-scale cryogenic energy storage system, according to a Wednesday statement. Highview said Citec will help it "easily and cost-effectively" scale the capacity of its plants up or down.

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The economy of scale "is steep" so the larger the system the cheaper it gets, Cavada said.

The technology uses liquid air as the storage medium and can currently deliver 20 MW/80 MWh to more than 200 MW/1.2 GWh of energy. Air is cooled and stored as a liquid, then converted back to a gas to generate energy that powers turbines producing electricity.

In April 2018, Highview launched a grid-scale demonstrator plant that converts waste heat from landfill gas engines at the Pilsworth Landfill in Bury in the UK into power.

The demonstration plant, built with GBP8 million ($10.2 million) of UK government funding, demonstrates how LAES can provide short-term operating reserves and support the power grid during winter peaks, according to the company's website.

"Our cryogenic energy storage systems are equivalent in performance to - and could replace - a fossil fuel power station," Cavada said in the statement.

ECONOMICS AND EFFICIENCY

A standard 50-MW plant with five hours of storage capacity currently costs about $50 million to build, Cavada said during the interview, but it would be below $60 million to go to 10 or 15 hours of storage. This is because once the initial infrastructure is in place, limited incremental capital expenditure is required to scale up by building additional storage tanks, he said.

Highview says it can boost the technology's efficiency by harnessing waste heat from industrial processes such as those at thermal generation plants, steel mills or LNG terminals.

"The technology presents interesting characteristics, including scalability and long lifetime," Felix Maire, senior policy, technology and scenario analyst with S&P Global Platts Analytics, said in an email Thursday. "It can be installed in more locations than pumped storage or compressed air storage technologies. However, relatively low round-trip efficiency expected at around 50-60% will limit the revenue potential from price arbitrage on wholesale markets, challenging its economics in the short term despite its anticipated low installed cost," Maire said.

However, "higher efficiency may be achieved by reusing industrial waste heat," Maire added.

Five US states have enacted energy storage mandates and/or targets. On the west coast, California is seeking 1.3 GW by 2024 and Oregon has targeted 5 MWh by 2020, according to Platts Analytics.

In the northeast, Massachusetts' Clean Peak Standard mandates 0.2 GWh by 2020 and 1 GWh by 2025, while New York has a 1.5 GW by 2025 energy storage target and New Jersey is seeking 0.6 GW by 2021 and 2 GW by 2030.

-- Jared Anderson, jared.anderson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Keiron Greenhalgh, newsdesk@spglobal.com