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Liquid-air storage offers cheapest route to 24-hour wind and solar

Interesting article on liquid-air storage and some excitement (surely from those with a stake in it, though) the technology is offering to the energy storage market of tomorrow.

I reserve skepticism for any new technologies that are described as "quietly developing its unique technology for the past 14 years" only to announce a stunning moonshot breakthrough, but at the same time my ears are perked and I'm eager to see what they've got

To wean the world off fossil fuels, we need to ensure that variable renewable energy can be stored and used to meet electricity demand at any given moment.

The most established methods of energy storage — pumped hydro, batteries and green hydrogen — all have their drawbacks, being expensive or geographically constrained.

But a breakthrough low-cost, build-anywhere solution may have been found, thanks to a privately-funded UK-based company that has been quietly developing its unique technology for the past 14 years.

Highview Power’s liquid-air energy storage (LAES) technology — which has been proven in the field at a 5MW/15MWh grid-connected pilot project near Manchester — is able to store huge amounts of power for months at a time in any location, and at a far cheaper price than any other energy-storage system.

“For a 100MW system, we are already touching [a levelized cost of storage (LCOS) of] $100 per MWh today,” chief executive Javier Cavada tells Recharge. “In ten years from now, I can see that being $50/MWh. That's very doable.”

By comparison, a new pumped-hydro plant would have an LCOS of $152-198 per MWh, with a comparable lithium-ion system costing $285-581/MWh, according to analyst Lazard.

With a new gas-peaker plant having a levelized cost of energy of $156-210/MWh, and wind power at $30-60/MWh (according to Lazard), it may already cheaper to balance the grid using wind-powered liquid-air storage than fossil-fuel technology. And if the LAES system is “charged” using wind power that would otherwise be curtailed, the wholesale price of that power would be close to zero.

And renewables backed up by LAES could soon be cheaper than new dispatchable coal-fired power plants, which currently cost $60-140/MWh (according to Lazard).

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