Air QualityClean GrowthCryoPowerEnergy storageEnvironment & ClimateFossil Fuels

UK Government supports R&D to decarbonise UK energy supply & storage

By February 11, 2020 No Comments

Global energy requirements continue to grow at an exponential rate.

With Governments & policy makers across the planet accepting that there is an urgency behind decarbonising the energy sector; more & more companies are seeking safe & carbon zero platforms for energy generation & storage.

With energy requirements set to peak in 2030, especially as the electrification & EV market has suddenly boomed in the automotive sector; where will this additional energy be generated from & who is supplying it to whom?

Last year Dolphin N2 explored how globally the need for clean energy is being met, in particular through the UN SDG’s agenda & how energy provision globally was being addressed.

With global energy needs being at the forefront of policy makers & industry minds alike, SDG7 was addressed & discussed in depth at the High Level Political Forum in 2018, with the following outcomes & observations being made:

  • From 2000 to 2016, the proportion of the global population with access to electricity increased from 78 per cent to 87 per cent, with the absolute number of people living without electricity dipping to just below 1 billion.
  • In the least developed countries, the proportion of the people with access to electricity more than doubled between 2000 and 2016.
  • In 2016, 3 billion people (41 per cent of the world’s population) were still cooking with polluting fuel and stove combinations.
  • The share of renewables in final energy consumption increased modestly, from 17.3 per cent in 2014 to 17.5 per cent in 2015. Yet only 55 per cent of the renewable share was derived from modern forms of renewable energy.
  • Global energy intensity decreased by 2.8 per cent from 2014 to 2015, double the rate of improvement seen between 1990 and 2010. (1)

However, closer to home, the UK are at the forefront of some of the greatest  innovations in clean & renewable energy & storage, with a large proportion of the development costs being funded by InnovateUK, UK Government grants, input from BEIS & UK Innovation & Research.

One of the greatest developments in energy supply & storage over recent years has been utilising the green economic capabilities of Cryogenics. British company Highview Power have not only been developing their liquid air energy storage technologies, but last year announced their CRYOBattery.

Highview Power’s technology is based on the air liquefication principle, enabling the storage of air as a liquid. The benefits of this type of high-density storage, is that once there is a need for energy supply, the liquid can be reverted back in to a gaseous form, generating energy which powers the Highview Power turbines, subsequently producing instantly available & sustainable energy supplies.

The Highview Power liquefication system is base on a three-phase process:

1/ Air is compressed & turned into a liquid.

2/ The liquid air is then stored in high-density storage tanks.

3/ The liquid air is then converted into gas & used to power turbines, subsequently generating electricity. (2)

Highview Power are one of the UK companies who have benefitted from UK Government funding & investment to support the decarbonisation of the energy sector.

The project was awarded funding of more than £8 million from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in 2014 & a subsequent £1.5 million for a new hybrid configuration of its existing Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) system from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency. (3)

In October 2019, Highview Power announced they were to build the UK’s first commercial cryogenic large -scale energy storage facility, to be located at a decommissioned thermal power station in North of England. (4)

The 50 MW/250 MWh project is a clean large-scale energy storage facility that can help the UK achieve its goal of decarbonising industry, power, heat, and transport. (4)

“Long-duration, giga-scale energy storage is the necessary foundation to enable baseload renewable energy and will be key to a 100% carbon free future.” Highview Power CEO Javier Cavada (4)

Highview Power’s CRYOBattery™ uses only benign materials with zero emissions and has zero water impact. (4)

Another initiative being supported by UK Innovation & Research is the GreenSCIES – Green Smart Community Integrated Energy Systems.

The UK Innovation & Research funded project, aim is to provide low cost & efficient energy for local communities, by harnessing energy sources such as escaped heat from underground shafts. The strategy stems from the district scheme in Islington, whereby waste heat from an underground ventilation shaft is being used to provide heat for local residents.

There has been a list of secondary energy sources considered for this project, which could be incorporated in to the national grid. This includes heat from substations, sewers, supermarkets, canals, cable tunnels and data centres.

The projects aim’s are defined as utilising waste heat & energy to:

  • Deliver low-carbon, affordable energy
  • Design able to be used & operated in an urban environment
  • Develop a local energy market –
  • Efficient Use of heat Capturing waste heat and using renewable energy sources –
  • 5th generation district heating network with energy storage and AI optimization –
  • Engaging local stakeholders to develop the business model (5)

Ensuring the UK benefits from a full spectrum of renewable & carbon zero energy sources, Innovate UK continues to offer funding to finance R&D to decarbonise the energy industry. Innovate UK are currently offering UK businesses working with US partners, part of £1.5 million to develop offshore wind technologies.(6)

Advances in technology have led to a reduction in costs that have allowed the industry to make a significant contribution to reducing UK carbon emissions from energy.(6)

However, it is estimated that the UK will need to see a ten-fold increase in energy production from wind to 75GW if it is to meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050.(6)

With energy & storage needs continuing to grow, it is hopeful that with continued UK Government funding & support, the road to net zero 2050 is an achievable goal.

Written by Katy-Jane Mason for & on behalf of Dolphin N2.