Automating the world’s first ful l - scale liquid air energy storage f acilit y

A fter having built and tested a

successful pilot plant (which has now beenmoved to the University of Birmingham), Highview and proj


partner Viridor were awarded government funding by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to build a pre- commercial scale 5MW Liquid Air Energy Storage technology demonstrator. That LAES plant is now currently undergoing final commissioning in Bury, Lancashire, where control panels built and supplied by Optimal are dotted thr site ready tomanage and each of the crucial stages

of the process. synchronise oughout the

The LAES system comprises of three primary processes: a cha rging system a n energy store and a power recovery stage. In its commercial form, these can be scaled independently to optimise the system for different applications. Mike Weeks, automation proj

, oject

engineer at Optimal, describes the control architecture: “The entire system relies on a Siemens SIMATIC PCS 7 PLC

for overall control; this manages I/O from Gareth Brett, C other controllers, inverter drives, RTU

units, meters and sensor s. Each of th e large process items has it set of control parameters

, which we have s own unique

connected over a Profibus network. We also connect to a GE PLC unit over Modbus communications that controls the waste gas turbo-expander, which is connected to the power generator set. “Froma supervisory control point of view the entire systemis transparent and information is updated in near real-time whether engineers and operators are viewing the systemon-s ite or remotely. For many automation systemintegration proj

ojects, providing secure networking for control and visualisation, trending and analysis has become as important as the actual control over the electro-

mechanical equipment on-site and this proj

oject is no different. 12 12 NOVEMBER 201 MBER 2016 | AU AUTOMA MAT ATION

Gareth Brett, CEO, Highview - “This is a

Highview - “This is a breakthrough technology

breakthrough technology that enables a new andthat enables a new and compelling solutcompelling solution forion for llarge scale, long

arge scale, long duration energy storage.duration energy storage.”

LAES technology can be scaled to deliverscaled to deliver large-large- scale, long duration energy storage from

technology can be

scale, long duration energy storage from

around 5MW output and Wh of storage

around 5MW output and 15MWh of storage

capacity to more than 200MW output and 1.2GWh of capacity.

capacity to more than

1.2GWh of capacity. 200MW output and

back through a gen rator to feed pow r into th grid may sound a bit like tomorrow’s world. It is, however, a very real prospect with the new 5MW Liqui Air Energy Storage (LAES) faci ty, designed by Highview Power Storage, soon to be operati nal th

An environmentally neutral, grid-scale energy storage system that utilises electrical energy to liquefy the air around us, store it, then expand i back through a generator to feed power into the gri

An environmental y neutral gri -scal storage systemthat uti

quefy the air around us, store i y sound a bit l ke t energy

es electri al energy to then expand it

rrow’s world.

how ver, a very real prospect w th the new 5M Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) facility, designed by Highview Power Storage, soon to be operational thanks,, in part, to control and systems integratiion work from Optimal Industrial Automation

in wor om rt, to co oject, rol a

Stuart Nelmes, head of engineering at Highview, and leading the proj

comments: “The beauty of this systemis that each component part of the process is built using tried and tested technology, which we know works and has established performance parameters. The design envelope and the application of some of it has been developed a little tomeet our particular requirements, but it’s the way all the different processes interact which truly delivers the viability of the process.” The funding has supported the design, build and testing of this LAES technology demonstrator on the same site as

Viridor’s Pilsworth landfill gas generation plant. “This has proved to be a smart move for several reasons,” continues Nelmes. “The location was good froma planning permission point of view, but it also has a technical benefit in that we can use low-grade waste heat from the GE Jenbacher generator engines to make our gas expansion stage more efficient.”

ENVIRONMENTALLY NEUTRAL Green credentials are off the scale compared to other large-scale energy storagemethods; once constructed the commercial installations will be close to environmentally neutral, output is simply air, or in this case inert nitrogen, which makes up 78 per cent of the air anyway. Commercial installations are likely to be

ENVIRONMENTA LY NEU AL , syste s inte tim l Industrial A tom tion

froman energy gridmanagement point of view and is one reason why government funding has been provided. It is also a reason for considerable global commercial interest in the proj The proj

oject. oject will operate for at least one

year and is intended to demonstrate how LAES can provide a number of electricity grid balancing services.

Weeks concludes: “The systemis not massively complex, themain challenge we have is that it is a development pro and by its nature some of the fine detail s of how best to realise various aspects of the control andmonitoring architecture have been worked-out as the proj progressed. We have


been able to remain oject has

flexible and help the design teamand all the suppliers come together to achieve a harmonious workin g system. ”


Air turns to liquid when refrigerated to -196°C, which is usually achieved by a cycle of compression, cooling and expansion, it can then be stored in conventionally insulated, ambient pressure vessels at very large scale. Exposure to ambient temperatures causes rapid re-gasification and a 700- fold expansion in volume, which is used to drive a turbine and create electricity. Highview’s technology draws from established processes fromthe turbo-

used as temporary energy banks for larger machinery, power generation and power stations which are both slow and expensive to turn down, or turn off.

lopping is an extremely desira when demand peaks. Fast, eff surplus and then fed back in t

The solution would also be very effective for storing energy fromrenewable sources such as wind turbines when there is a grid o the grid

ective peak- ble function

industrial gas sector s. The components o f Highview’s processes can be readily

adapted fromlarge OEMs and have proven operating life times and performances.

Optimal Industrial Automation T: 01454 333222

T: 01454 333222 www

w .optiw ptimal-ltd. /AUTOMATION AT /AUTOMATION o

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