How cryogenic energy storage and solar power will revolutionize energy security

By Dr. Javier Cavada / President and CEO of Highview Power 28/07/2019

The Middle East is facing challenges with access to water, food shortages, and energy security. Every nation faces energy security challenges, but for Middle Eastern nations, environmental considerations make it a more pressing issue. Fortunately, the responsible resolution of the region’s energy security dilemma can significantly alleviate regional shortages of water and food. The region has long been known for its abundant fossil fuel resources, but utilizing those resources for regional energy needs presents challenges. Moreover, as the world transitions to cleaner renewable sources of energy, demand for fossil fuels is expected to wane; despite this, the Middle East is seeing tremendous opportunities to remain a top global energy provider. By working with countries in the Middle East to address current and future energy demands efficiently, cleanly and cost-effectively, Highview Power is determined to play a pivotal role in resolving challenges that transcend industries and impact every person’s life.

Around the world, more and more companies, cities, nations, and regions are committing to transitioning the energy market to one powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and we at Highview Power have made it our mission to facilitate making that vision a reality. Critical to our mission is the strategic deployment of renewable energy assets to regions where they are best suited. For theMiddle East, solar energy is the most appropriate renewable energy source, but it is not without challenges.

The biggest technological hurdle to the complete transition to renewable energy on a global scale is the inherent intermittency of these energy sources. However, when paired with solar, Highview Power’s cryogenic energy storage technology is truly unleashing the power of renewable energies by effectively resolving the intermittency issue and enabling the storage—and later use—of solar energy collected in excess of immediate demand. This proven breakthrough in long-duration energy storage, with the capability to store weeks’ worth of energy instead of mere hours, will have a tremendous impact across industries, regions, and on our future.

For Middle Eastern nations, solar intermittency has not been as significant an issue as the storage of the abundant solar energy collected. Due to increased solar deployments, vast undeveloped sectors in the region, and the fact that the Middle East enjoys more uninterrupted sunshine than nearly any other region on the planet, solar energy is poised to meet an ever larger share of Middle Eastern energy demands. Harnessing that power requires storage capabilities well beyond what is offered by any other existing technology. Highview Power has developed and optimized an energy storage system that is not only bringing about a 100 percent renewable future, but also doing so sustainably, reliably and at grid-scale.

Highview Power’s innovative cryogenic energy storage technology provides clean, long-duration energy storage using liquid air as the storage medium. The system charges by collecting ambient air, which is cleaned, compressed and liquefied by cooling it to -196°C. The charging process compresses 700L of ambient air into 1L of liquid air, which is safely stored in an insulated tank. When power is needed, the liquid air is compressed again and heated, resulting in its expansion back to its original volume. The pressure created in the recovery stage is used to drive a turbine that generates electricity. 
The cryogenic process that Highview Power developed is the only long-duration energy storage system available today that offers multiple gigawatt hours of storage without geographic limitations. It is clean, scalable, deployable at the point of demand, and has the lowest levelized cost of energy for long-duration applications. 

Strategic deployment of energy storage facilities and solar PV systems, especially in areas with disparate population densities, demands flexibility in those assets. Highview Power resolved these scalability concerns through our development of the cryogenic energy storage system. The scalability of the technology makes the system well suited to Middle Eastern nations as it can service both urban centers and remote rural areas effectively. Further, Highview Power’s unique and flexible facility design incorporates proven components from mature industries; the innovation of the technology is in the organization of those components, which provides both reliability and the ability to scale up to multiple gigawatt hours, without limitation. 

With the varied distribution of urban and rural areas in the Middle East – along with regional geographic obstacles – a new paradigm in energy deployment is critical now more than ever. Cryogenic energy storage is deployable where energy is needed most with no geographical constraints. Even with the heterogeneous population density of the Middle East, supplying clean and reliable power where, when, and how it is needed most has never been more achievable. 

For example, several Middle Eastern countries have large percentages of their populations living in rural areas. These same countries generally have significant geographical obstacles that cryogenic energy storage overcomes, delivering clean, reliable energy in locations that best support the integrity of the grid at large. Likewise, deploying this technology in populated urban centers, where grid support and improved security are critical concerns, can achieve all these goals while promoting a healthy environment. Paired with solar PV, cryogenic energy storage has zero emissions and uses only benign materials. Conversely, fossil fuel energy plants consume tremendous amounts of water to cool plant machinery – water resources that many countries can ill-afford to squander.

Evolving the energy resources of Middle Eastern countries not only provides energy security but can also alleviate food and water shortages. Due to the predominately-arid climate of the region and the scarcity of freshwater resources, Middle Eastern nations rely heavily on water desalinization. Unfortunately, nearly half the cost of operating desalinization plants in the Middle East comes from using fossil fuel-based power. The pairing of solar PV with cryogenic energy storage can provide critical support to regional desalinization plants, helping to reduce the cost and expand the availability of water. 

Food shortages in the Middle East – along with the rising cost of food – is primarily the result of water scarcity and desertification. Utilizing cryogenic energy storage to support and reduce the cost of operating desalinization plants can help lift the burden of water scarcity. More abundant freshwater enables more widespread food cultivation, thereby easing the advancement of desertification and reducing the cost of food by curtailing food imports. 

With Highview Power’s cryogenic energy storage technology, a world powered by 100 percent renewables is closer than many believe. In recent years, solar deployments in the Middle East have experienced tremendous growth. Paired with our clean, reliable, long-duration energy storage technology, we can further accelerate the transition to renewable energy. By enabling giga-scale solar power access, cryogenic energy storage can help transcend industries and impact lives in meaningful ways. Long-duration energy storage is the key to the energy transition already underway and Highview Power is playing a pivotal role in it. 


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