When batteries beat traditional power

The largest commercial battery storage system in Europe, commissioned by WEMAG in Schwerin, Germany, is proving that battery energy storage can beat traditional power for grid frequency regulation. Photo credit: Younicos

The largest commercial battery storage system in Europe, commissioned by WEMAG in Schwerin, Germany, is showing that battery energy storage can beat traditional power for grid frequency regulation. Photo credit: Younicos

Battery storage is usually seen as being a handy adjunct to help renewable energy square up to traditional power plants. But on frequency regulation, at least, it seems batteries may actually be better than the generation sources they are helping to supplant.

That, at least, is the consensus emerging from early operating experience at Europe’s largest commercial battery power plant, the 5MWh lithium-ion facility that WEMAG has commissioned from Younicos in Schwerin, Germany.

“Whereas coal-fired and other thermal plants typically take up to 30 seconds to adjust production up or down, and then just hit the neighbourhood of where they are supposed to be, batteries react within milliseconds,” explains Philip Hiersemenzel of Younicos.

The fact that batteries might beat traditional power plants for frequency regulation has long been touted as a big selling point for battery storage and has already helped sell projects in the US.

Now the performance of WEMAG’s installation is strengthening that business case.
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Frequency regulation: the battery business case

RES Americas has opened the first dedicated grid frequency regulation energy storage plant in Ohio for PJM.

RES Americas has opened the first dedicated grid frequency regulation energy storage plant in Ohio for PJM. Photo credit: PRNewsFoto/RES Americas

The value of battery systems in helping with grid frequency regulation is being put to the test this week in a project in Ohio, USA.

Renewable Energy Systems Americas (RES Americas), a North American renewable power project developer, announced Monday the start of its first energy storage plant, which is dedicated to providing frequency regulation to the US grid.

Located in Sunbury, Ohio, the plant is made up of two containers each holding a 20-ton lithium iron phosphate battery, said by RES Americas to be “an inherently safe variant of the lithium battery chemistry.”

These batteries provide plus or minus 4MW for a total frequency range of 8MW, with an output of 2.6MWh. A third container in the plant converts the direct current output of the system to alternating current for the grid.

BYD America supplied the equipment for the project, which is being used to stabilise grid operations at PJM Interconnection. PJM is the largest regional transmission organisation in the US, incorporating 830 companies and serving 60 million customers.

Interest in frequency regulation

The plant implementation comes amid growing interest in energy storage for frequency regulation.
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