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A partnership between waste and recycling company, Viridor – a part of the Pennon Group (LSE: PNN) and Highview Power Storage, a designer and developer of large-scale energy storage solutions, has been awarded over £8 million in funding from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

The contract has been awarded to the partnership as part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s innovation competition to support energy storage technology research and development.

Viridor explained that it will work with Highview to build and operate a 5MW/15MWh energy storage demonstration project at its landfill site in Canterbury, Kent.

Highview’s Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) systems works by refrigerating air to -196°C, at which point it turns into a liquid.

At that temperature the company said that it can be stored in standard insulated, but unpressurised 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.

Viridor said that the partnership will use the funding to further develop the technology, which will be connected to the National Grid, and will be used to test the balancing of supply and demand using stored energy.

In addition to providing energy storage, it is also planned that the LAES plant will convert waste heat to power using heat from the on-site landfill gas engines. The project is scheduled to be operational by mid-2015.

“With our pilot plant tested and fully operational on the UK’s national grid, this new project will provide Highview with the opportunity to demonstrate the technology at commercial scale,” explained Highview Power Storage’s CEO, Gareth Brett.

Energy storage

Viridor explained that at present almost all electricity is generated when required and networks are designed to accommodate highest demands, even if they are of very short duration. Energy storage systems offer the opportunity to store surplus electricity for use at times of high demand.

The company added that the technology could play an important role in supporting UK growth in low carbon, renewable energy sources and in maintaining security of electricity supply in the UK.

“Storing energy will become increasingly important in the move towards a low carbon economy, and has the potential to save the energy system over £4 billion by 2050,” commented Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker.

“Energy storage systems are potentially revolutionary technologies – just imagine how much the energy system will change if we’re able to manage supply and demand better by storing energy cost-effectively, not to mention the benefits for British research and manufacturing industries,” he continued.

Viridor’s landfill energy director, Ian Morrish added: “With ever growing pressure on natural resources, it is essential that we develop innovative and sustainable methods to generate and store energy not only to cut down our carbon footprint but to ensure long-term energy security.

“Innovation has been at the heart of successful businesses in Britain and it is great news that the government recognises and supports its development.”

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