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Highview Power, TSK enter JV to develop cryogenic energy storage projects

LONDON and MADRID, 14 April 2019: Highview Power, which provides long-duration energy storage solutions, and TSK, a global engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company headquartered in Spain, have entered into an agreement to co-develop gigawatt-hour scale, long-duration energy storage systems using Highview Power’s proprietary cryogenic energy storage solution, Highview said through a Press communiqué.

The new joint-venture company, named Highview TSK, will commit to the development of multiple projects in Spain, the Middle East and South Africa, the communiqué announced. An initial number of projects have been identified for several GWh of clean energy storage to be developed from 2019 through 2022, the communiqué said.
“We are thrilled to be working with a global EPC company of TSK’s caliber,” said Javier Cavada, CEO, Highview Power. “They have an impressive track record of deploying large-scale energy projects around the world, and we are excited to work with them to deploy our cryogenic technology. This partnership with TSK will help Highview Power accelerate momentum for our cryogenic energy storage systems in global markets and is ideal for applications like renewable energy shifting, enabling wind and solar for baseload generation, and hybridising cryogenic storage plants with traditional thermal generation systems.”

Joaquín García Rico, CEO, TSK, said: “After looking at a number of storage technologies, we have come to the conclusion that Highview’s cryogenic energy storage is the ideal solution to deliver long-duration, large-scale storage services to our customers. The technology is not only cost effective, it is also scalable, clean, has a long lifespan and can be deployed now. As a result of the joint capabilities of Highview Power and TSK, we expect to progressively grow our footprint and sales to reach target revenues of over 1 billion euro by 2021.”

According to the communiqué, Highview’s cryogenic systems are the only long-duration energy storage solution available today that are locatable and offer multiple gigawatt-hours of storage. That represents weeks’ worth of storage, not just hours or days. Grid operators are turning to long-duration energy storage to help improve power generation economics, balance the grid and increase reliability. At giga-scale, energy storage resources paired with renewables are equivalent in performance to – and could replace – thermal and nuclear baseload in addition to supporting the electricity transmission and distribution systems while providing additional security of supply.

TSK, the communiqué said, has constructed more than 20 GW of generation projects across 35 countries and brings extensive experience in both traditional energy generation and renewable projects, such as solar, wind and biomass, including more than 10 energy storage projects. According to the communiqué, Highview Power has developed the ideal long-duration energy storage technology for large-scale applications with its cryogenic energy storage technology and brings a skilled team that has developed over $13 billion in energy and infrastructure projects. Combined, the Highview TSK team will have over 1,000 skilled engineers and project managers to execute long-duration energy storage projects in its target markets, from their offices in Gijón, Madrid, Cologne, London and New York, the communiqué said.

Highview Power, the communiqué said, has already built and connected two cryogenic energy storage plants to the UK grid. The first plant was commissioned in 2014 in Slough, Greater London, with a capacity of 2.5 MWh, while in 2018, the world’s largest liquid air energy storage plant was inaugurated in Bury, Greater Manchester, with a capacity of 15 MWh, the communiqué said. The Bury plant shows in real time how cryogenic energy storage provides all possible balancing services, including Short Term Operating Reserve (STOR) and supports the grid during winter peaks, the communiqué said. Highview is currently developing several large projects that will be hundreds of MWhs in scale across the United States and Europe, the company claimed through the communiqué.
Besides being the most suitable solution to balance renewables and enable reliable renewable baseload power, cryogenic energy storage plants support and accelerate the energy transition when combined with traditional thermal power plants, the communiqué said. The plants can optimise operations utilising waste heat and cold into their process, which enables even more affordable and sustainable power production, the communiqué said.
As markets around the world focus on drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions, there is an accelerated shutdown of traditional coal-fired power stations and massive deployment of intermittent renewable energy plants (mostly solar PV and wind), the communiqué said. This is causing grid reliability issues that are dependent on weather conditions, which drives demand of long-duration energy storage in all major geographic markets in order to ensure a stable and reliable grid. When shutting down and dismantling old power stations, the existing infrastructure and connections left behind become the perfect location to install cryogenic energy storage plants, solving the challenge of integrating massive amounts of renewables while retiring traditional assets.

‘Clear-cut instructions needed to address cold chain breaches in the healthcare industry’

What do you consider to be the main issue plaguing the modern medical cold chain, with regard to avoiding temperature excursions that could potentially degrade the potency of medication and vaccines?

The main issue is the lack of international or uniform guidelines to instruct health providers/ consumers about “what to do in case of a cold chain breach”? We do know very well how those drugs should be kept, but we do not know how to manage if a cold chain breach (CCB) occurs. There is a clear lack of guidelines for these possible incidences. These incidences are not just limited to developing countries, but they could happen anywhere at any time; an example is a power outage due to maintenance/upgrade or even natural disasters that cannot be anticipated.

Does it vary from developed and developing countries as the level of investment among them must vastly differ? Do you see lack of innovation in equipment as a problem or is the problem mostly adoption and investment in more reliable equipment? Similarly, is there a gap in further training and awareness in the ‘last mile’?

Developed countries usually have a more reliable infrastructure and power supply, as compared to developing countries. But when you think of the level of investment in these countries, often developed countries rely on their reliable infrastructure and may not see the need to invest further on this. Evidence of this is our recent research that showed the lack of guidelines and concerns about awareness and planning in Australia, which is a developed country. Whereas developing countries are aware of their infrastructure limitations but may have difficulty in investing.

Certainly, there is an evident gap in training and awareness. I believe developing user-friendly guidelines that are evidence-based, accurate and easy to understand, would significantly help. For example, imagine if an expensive biological drug that is worth about USD 1,000 and is stored in a pharmacy or a hospital fridge is exposed to a higher temperature, due to a temporary power outage for certain number of hours. Although the temperature records are available, there is no reliable instruction to healthcare providers whether the drug is usable anymore or not? So individuals need to use their judgement whether to expose the drugs (that could be quite costly) or to continue supplying it to their patients (that could bear a risk). Developing guidelines can provide clear-cut instructions on how to deal with those situations. Data from a small local study indicate millions of dollars worth of medicines could be saved each year if additional data regarding the stability of medicines were available to the relevant parties

Could you briefly comment on the impact these power outages could have on the integrity of the vaccines and medicines?

To explain the impact of power outage and CCB, we can look at the global burden, as identified by the WHO. The WHO estimates that up to 50% of vaccines may be wasted globally every year because of temperature control, logistics and shipment-related issues. We found the gap in the knowledge, as we did not find any comprehensive international study that assessed the impact of CCB on non-vaccine medicines (those that need to be refrigerated). In our small local study we found that power outages could lead to significant financial loss, either to the healthcare providers that store the drugs or to the insurance companies, with regard to vaccination. The worst thing that could happen is that if healthcare providers or suppliers overlook a potential CCB and the medicine reaches the consumer, usually there is no way to assure the integrity of the medicines by the consumers or even by the healthcare providers. That may result in under-vaccination, without knowing about the potential CCB, and subsequently could predispose people to communicable diseases.

Are the government guidelines enough, in terms of securing a stringent cold chain? Where do you think are the most prominent gaps and what are your recommendations?

No. Government guidelines are often quite broad and do not provide practical solutions once CCB has occurred. For example, the WHO has developed a set of guidelines for governments in a bid to minimise exposure to high temperatures, if a power outage happens. But these guidelines don’t have any specific instructions on how healthcare facilities and pharmacies should implement backup systems. They also don’t provide a list of standardised equipment to prevent and deal with power outages. This would be helpful in both developed and developing country scenarios.

The most prominent gap is the lack of uniform evidence-based guidelines about transportation and storage or vaccines and medicines. Given that most pharmaceutical companies these days are international, similar or identical medicines are being marketed in different countries, so if manufacturers conduct comprehensive stability testing and transparently provide the information to the public, by collaboration between independent scientists and manufacturers, we can develop these guidelines.

Should energy insecure countries be more vigilant?

Yes, where power supply is not reliable, there is an increased incidence of power outage that can affect the integrity of medications. An interesting example is, when there was an Ebola outbreak in 2014 and or after the Nepal earthquake in 2015, there was not a reliable power source, due to being in remote locations and the natural disaster that affected the infrastructure, respectively. A vaccine storage device was developed and trialled that was called Arktek. It is a super-insulated device that maintains the integrity of vaccines by keeping them in ice, in its inner chamber. It can keep vaccines at a temperature between zero degrees C and eight degrees C for 30 to 60 days, depending on outside temperatures and humidity. Although this might have worked well in those outbreaks in remote areas, however, it may not be possible to use these devices in all settings.

You mentioned that actual cost of vaccine and pharmaceutical loss is poorly studied and requires further research. Could you comment on what are the key areas that you believe should be given more attention?

The key areas include vaccines that are extremely important to the public health and biological drugs that are quite costly for the consumers/health insurance/public healthcare systems.

Manufacturers can invest on developing heat-stable drugs so that drugs can be stored outside the cold chain for a longer time. This will significantly contribute to preventing wastage in medications and saving in logistics. But we should acknowledge that, this may not be so simple.

How can manufacturers help address the issue?

Manufacturers could conduct more vigorous stability testing, share their data transparently with independent scientists and invest in developing guidelines to deal with power outages for their own products. This is the least you can expect from manufacturers, especially for biological drugs, where usually each supply of the drug that lasts for a month is worth at least USD 1,000 or even more. So the investment is well justified.


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