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Volkswagen subsidiary MAN Energy Solutions signs up for 250MWh liquid air energy storage project

Design for Highview Power’s 50MW / 250MWh CRYOBattery project. Image: Highview Power.

MAN Energy Solutions, a Volkswagen-owned engineering group perhaps best known for its work with diesel engines, has formally signed a deal to supply turbomachinery for Highview Power’s 50MW / 250MWh liquid air energy storage (LAES) project in the UK.

Highview Power has already begun construction on the project, which is in Carrington Village, in England’s Greater Manchester region. The LAES technology the company has created cools ambient air and stores it as a liquid at low pressure which can then be heated and expanded to drive turbines and generate electricity.

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The long-duration energy storage technology, which has been dubbed the CRYOBattery, is safe and has a low cost of ownership over its lifetime, Highview Power claims, with a megawatt-scale demonstrator project already in operation near to the much larger system’s site.

Construction began on the 50MW project in November 2020 and Highview selected MAN Energy Solutions in April as a potential provider for the turbomachinery train which forms part of the LAES system’s core. MAN announced today that the contract was formally signed at Highview’s London offices. While Highview has also announced plans and intent to develop similar large-scale LAES projects in territories including the US, Spain and Latin America, understands that the deal with MAN Energy Solutions covers the UK project only, at this stage.

The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, hailed the project as a “world-first” which will demonstrate how Greater Manchester is “putting itself at the forefront of the next industrial revolution in sustainable low-carbon technologies.”

“We know that there are good green jobs in new industries just waiting to be created right across Greater Manchester and the North West, and we hope that the Carrington storage facility will help us pioneer those skills and give a boost to our ambition of becoming carbon neutral by 2038,” Burnham said.

The project is scheduled to reach commercial operation during next year and it will be operated by Highview Power in partnership with independent power plant developer Carlton Power.

In an interesting industry parallel development, Malta Inc, a US-based developer of a novel ‘pumped heat energy storage’ (PHES) technology signed a partnership a few days ago with Siemens Energy for the turbomachinery that its large-scale, long-duration storage projects will require.

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