Earlier this month (12 July), Eddie Hughes MP, member for Walsall North, visited the Birmingham Energy Institute to learn more about its world-leading research into the next generation of energy storage technology, and how such technologies can be integrated into future energy systems.
Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Reader in Energy Systems and Policy at the Birmingham Energy Institute, and Dr Yongliang Li, Senior Lecturer in the School of Chemical Engineering, showed Mr Hughes Birmingham’s liquid air energy storage (LAES) demonstration plant (pictured).
Liquid air energy storage (LAES) technology acts as a large rechargeable battery and will help the electricity grid cope with the increased uptake in renewable energy, which is often intermittent in its generation.
Mr Hughes also learned about how Birmingham researchers are working on new materials capable of absorbing and releasing large amounts of energy. Currently, heating and cooling our buildings and infrastructure accounts for more than half of our total energy consumption and is set to grow dramatically over the next 15 years. These new materials will support the development of energy efficient, sustainable heating and cooling systems.
The current LAES concept was invented by Professor Yulong Ding, holder of the Royal Academy of Engineering Highview Chair in Cryogenic Energy Storage, over 12 years ago. Subsequent development by Professor Ding and his team from the Birmingham Centre for Energy Storage has led to new ways to increase the round trip efficiency of LAES by ~9-18 % compared to current LAES systems. It has recently progressed to a large-scale trial in Bury, Greater Manchester.
Dr Jonathan Radcliffe, Reader in Energy Systems and Policy at the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “The recent opening of the 5MW liquid air energy storage plant shows how the future needs of the energy system are being recognised, and we seek to integrate more renewables as the price of the technologies drop.
“Researchers at Birmingham are rising to these challenges by developing new technologies and re-thinking how we approach the production, storage and distribution of energy so that we can meet the world’s energy needs at the same time as tackling climate change.”
The Birmingham Energy Institute is the focal point for the University of Birmingham and its national partners, to create change in the way we deliver, consume and think about energy. The Institute harnesses expertise from the fundamental sciences and engineering through to business and economics to deliver co-ordinated research, education and the development of global partnerships. By creating technology and guiding policy today, the institute aims to help shape energy solutions tomorrow.