13 June, 2024: Centrica plc, a prominent player in the UK energy sector, has announced a landmark strategic partnership and substantial £70 million investment in Highview Power. This investment marks Centrica’s entry into the burgeoning field of clean energy storage, aimed at bolstering the UK’s energy security and accelerating its path to net zero emissions.

The focal point of Centrica’s investment is the development of the UK’s first commercial-scale Liquid Air Energy Storage (LAES) plant in Carrington, Manchester. This ambitious project is part of a larger £300 million funding initiative to pioneer sustainable energy storage solutions. Scheduled for completion in 2026, the Carrington facility will boast a storage capacity of 300 MWh and an output power of 50 MW, positioning it among the world’s largest LAES facilities.

Highview Power’s LAES technology, refined over 17 years with support from the UK Government’s Department of Energy Security and Net Zero, enables the storage of renewable energy for extended durations up to several weeks surpassing conventional battery technologies. This capability is crucial for stabilising the national grid and facilitating the gradual replacement of fossil fuel-based power plants.

In the company’s press release, Chris O’Shea, Group Chief Executive of Centrica, emphasised the strategic importance of the partnership, stating, “The energy transition is an opportunity that could transform lives across the UK. But with a changing energy mix, and more intermittency from renewables, we have to explore new, innovative ways to store energy so our customers have electricity available when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. Low carbon storage is an essential part of the solution when looking at how we manage peaks in demand.”

The £70 million investment from Centrica is structured to include £25 million in convertible debt at Highview Enterprises Limited and £45 million in debt funding allocated to the Carrington project’s construction phases. Beyond financial support, Centrica’s involvement grants it rights to equity participation and energy optimisation from Highview Power’s extensive £9 billion project pipeline.

Richard Butland, CEO of Highview Power, hailed the partnership as a significant step forward in the UK’s renewable energy landscape. In the press release, he stated, “The UK’s investment in offshore wind and renewables necessitates robust storage solutions to harness excess energy and fortify grid infrastructure. The backing from UKIB and Centrica marks a pivotal moment in advancing renewable energy storage capabilities at scale, ensuring energy security and bolstering the economy.”

As Centrica continues its trajectory of investment in clean energy initiatives projecting annual investments between £600 million to £800 million until 2028, expectations are high for the Carrington facility to showcase the viability and scalability of LAES technology in meeting the UK’s evolving energy needs.

The collaborative effort between Centrica, Highview Power, and other stakeholders, including the UK Infrastructure Bank, underscores a unified commitment to establishing the UK as a global leader in energy storage and flexibility. The Carrington project serves as a catalyst for future expansions and international ventures, leveraging British technology to set new standards in sustainable energy solutions worldwide.