Innovation in Compressed Air Energy Storage

Crondall Energy Ltd and Durham University have announced a partnership to accelerate the development of Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) in the UK continental shelf. This comes after the award of funding under a £6.7 million UK government Longer Duration Energy Storage competition to investigate feasibility of an offshore CAES system.

The department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has allocated a total of £30.5 million to Stream 2 of the competition, aimed at investigating the feasibility of innovative storage technologies and developing first-of-a-kind prototypes.

Crondall Energy has been awarded £149,086 from the Phase 1 fund to develop a project with the initial aims to explore the technical and economic feasibility of combining a compressed air energy storage (CAES) system with offshore infrastructure to deliver long-term energy storage capacity for the electric grid. Longer duration storage is going to be crucial for delivering stability to future net-zero compatible energy supply. At present, there are only a limited number of potential solutions which can deliver upon this and there is a clear requirement for innovative solutions.

Over 5 months, a team from Crondall Energy and Durham University will explore the likely costs of using electricity to compress air and to store offshore in the UK Continental Shelf. When required, the system is reversed, and the compressed air powers a turbine to produce flexible electrical energy. Crondall Energy director Murray Anderson suggests “a wide range of energy storage technologies will be required to enhance the resilience of the UK green energy supply, and compressed air energy storage is a proven system for medium to long term storage on the required scale”. Upon completion of the feasibility study, it is hoped BEIS will progress the project to develop a full prototype of the technology.

Dr Andrew Smallbone said “The Durham Energy Institute are delighted to support this exciting opportunity. The UK is well placed to generate a significant amount of its energy from offshore wind and adding long-duration storage expands its potential for further growth. This project builds upon our work on the scale-up of grid-scale energy storage technologies and their roll-out to the UK energy system.”

Energy & Climate Change Minister Greg Hands said “Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy. It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.

The UK energy system is connecting increasingly high volumes of low carbon and renewable generation. A net zero energy system will need significant storage flexibility to integrate variable low carbon power, heat, and transport. Energy storage is expected to be one of the key components in a smarter, more flexible energy system. The only mature solution for longer duration energy storage is conventional pumped hydropower storage. There is a need for new technologies that can provide longer duration grid flexibility, utilising excess electricity generation.

In 2018 Crondall Energy accelerated the inclusion of energy transition technology as a key part of their strategy. They anticipated the opportunity to apply their specialist expertise to the transition of offshore technologies to greener renewable solutions. Being proactive in the transition has allowed the company to be involved in several innovative projects involving carbon dioxide transport, hydrogen integration, electrification of offshore platforms and buoyant production technology. Longer duration energy storage will be another exciting technology to integrate into the increasing renewable capabilities of the organisation.