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World's Largest Liquid Air Battery Will Help the UK Go Carbon Neutral

Renewable Energy
A new battery will help the UK store power generated by the Walney offshore wind farm, the world's largest of its kind. Ashley Cooper / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Construction is starting on what will be the world's largest liquid air battery, The Guardian reported Thursday.


The project, known as the CryoBattery, will also be the first commercial battery of its kind. It will be housed near Manchester in the UK and help the country store renewable energy. When it is completed, it will store 250 megawatt hours of energy, almost double what the world's largest chemical battery, the Tesla battery in South Australia, can store.

"This revolutionary new Cryobattery facility will form a key part of our push towards net zero, bringing greater flexibility to Britain's electricity grid and creating green collar jobs in Greater Manchester," UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said in a government press release. "Projects like these will help us realise the full value of our world-class renewables, ensuring homes and businesses can still be powered by green energy, even when the sun is not shining and the wind not blowing."

The UK government is backing the project to the tune of £10 million. It is due to be completed by 2022 and, when it is, it will be able to power as many as 200,000 homes for five hours.

The government explained how the battery will accomplish this:

The CryoBattery works by using electricity to cool and compress air, turning it into liquid and storing it in industrial sized containers. It then feeds the liquid through a turbine, turning it back into electricity and pumping it back into the grid when it is needed.

The battery is being developed by Carlton Highview Storage, a partnership between UK independent power station developer Carlton Power and long-term energy storage firm Highview Power Storage, Current reported.

Highview chief executive Javier Cavada told The Guardian that liquid air batteries could be built anywhere.

"Air is everywhere in the world. The main competitor is really not other storage technologies but fossil fuels, as people still want to continue building gas and coal-fired plants today, strangely enough," he said.

For his part, Carlton Power chief executive Keith Clarke told Current his company looked at several energy storage solutions and settled on Highview's "because it is scalable, clean, can deliver the grid services we need, and can be deployed now."

The UK gets a third of its electricity from renewable energy and is home to the world's largest offshore wind farm, the government said. Storing that energy when it is not needed can help the UK meet its goal of going carbon neutral by 2050.

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