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Report calls for energy storage system

Holyrood ministers are coming under pressure to launch a £1.5 billion scheme to store energy using "liquid air" batteries and other technologies to help meet future power needs.

An expert report due out this week by the left-leaning Jimmy Reid Foundation calls for a radical rethink by the Scottish Government.

It should adopt "a much more ambitious strategy" on energy storage to create jobs, wealth and exports, it says.

The idea has been backed by a leading Scottish Nationalist, the renewables industry and environmentalists.

Electricity supply and demand fluctuate, and one of the challenges for managers of the national grid is to try and keep them matched.

One solution is to store more power that can be tapped when needed.

The new report ­proposes a £1.5bn investment to create 5000 jobs in a major new energy storage industry. "In the medium term, energy storage will be a fundamental component of our energy system," it says. "Delaying the transition to that energy system would appear to be both short-sighted and lacking in ambition."

The most promising new energy storage technology involves using surplus power to extract nitrogen from the air. The gas is cooled to below -190°C to turn it into a liquid. The liquid, which is smaller in volume than the gas, is stored in a large vacuum flask. When power is needed, it is allowed to warm up and the expanding gas drives a turbine to generate electricity.

According to the report's author, Brian Richardson, director of sustainability at Glasgow firm GreeningtheMarket, liquid air is the "leading contender" of several emerging energy storage technologies.

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