CEO Cavada steps down at liquid air energy storage company Highview Power

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Highview Power’s LAES technology uses readily-available components from existing industries to create large-scale long-duration energy storage systems. Image: Highview Power.

Highview Power, currently the world’s only provider of a liquid air energy storage (LAES) technology which enables bulk, long-duration storage of energy, will get a new CEO as it targets a rollout of its systems at large-scale around the world.  

Current CEO, Dr Javier Cavada, who joined the company just under three years ago in September 2018 from Wärtsilä Corporation, where he had been energy division president since 2015, is stepping down. His successor, Adrian Katzew, comes from Zuma Energia, an independent power producer (IPP) specialising in renewables, headquartered in Mexico.

A three-month handover period begins on 1 October, when Katzew becomes Deputy CEO to Cavada and CEO Designate, becoming CEO on 1 January 2022. Highview Power said in a release that Javier Cavada is going to take on a new executive role elsewhere, but remain a non-executive director of the board at the UK-headquartered LAES company. Cavada was also elected to the board of directors at the US national Energy Storage Association (ESA) in April 2020.

Highview Power’s emissions-free cryogenic battery (which it calls ‘CRYOBattery’) technology is based on chilling ambient air using conventional industrial refrigeration techniques to temperatures below -270°F (-170 ̊C). Turning it into liquid compresses the air about 700 times over in volume, meaning that when the liquid is then warmed up and expanded through a standard expansion turbine connected to a generator, it can release that stored energy. In a 2019 article for our technical journal PV Tech Power, Javier Cavada explained how LAES works and what it could achieve for the transition to clean energy

Company moving into large-scale deployment phase

The company built its first 5MW demonstration project in England in 2015. During the outgoing CEO’s time in charge, Highview Power has gone from a technology at the demonstration phase to its first 50MW / 250MWh commercial project, now under construction, also in England, UK. It is also at various stages of development with a number of similarly-sized or larger projects in the US and is targeting large-scale projects in Spain and Latin America. In its most recent funding round, which closed in February, Highview raised US$70 million from investors.

Recently signing a deal with MAN Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of Volkswagen better known for diesel engine manufacture, to supply core turbomachinery for its 250MWh UK plant, CEO Cavada and his company have long advocated that not only can the LAES technology be a cost-effective provider of long-duration storage but also uses many techniques and off-the-shelf components used in existing industries including those based on fossil fuels — but without the emissions. 

Having got the technology development aspect up and running, it appears getting it deployed at large scale around the world is now the priority for the company. Highview Power chairman Colin Roy said that new CEO Adrian Katzew’s experience in building “profitable, large-scale renewable assets” is very relevant to the company’s current activities.   

“It is in the nature of technology growth companies that they require different types of leaders for different stages of development. Now is the time for us to capitalise on our first-mover advantage as we build out the project pipeline, construct our plants – and expand the capabilities of the company across key global markets,” Colin Roy said.

Katzew said in a statement that Highview Power’s long-duration storage is a “critical piece of the solution” in the world’s transformation of energy systems to running on renewable energy. 

“Highview Power’s liquid air energy storage technology is positioned to be a catalyst for decarbonisation and to be one of the global energy storage leaders in driving energy transition forward,” Katzew said. 

Javier Cavada said it had been “an honour to lead this company and bring it from R&D into full scale commercialisation”. 

“As the company moves into a stage of large growth, it is the perfect time for a leader who can capitalise on all the progress we have made, and I believe Adrian has the experience, skills and passion to take us there.”

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