Sunday, 29 April 2018

Battery Storage Project Doesn't Live Up to Hype

A new 200MW battery storage project in Co. Offaly has been hyped up in the media as a project that will "boost use of renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuel-fired power plants."

From the Independent :

BESS (Battery Energy Storage Solutions) involves the storage of power from the grid which is then resupplied on demand. It will allow renewable energy generated at night to be stored, which would otherwise have to be curtailed due to a lack of demand.
The power can then be released back into the grid, avoiding the use of conventional oil or gas-fired power stations to generate electricity.
The 200MW proposed by Lumcloon could provide power for the equivalent of 170,000 homes.

In reality, the storage facility will not generate any electricity. It will not provide power for any home nor will it reduce dependence on fossil fuel power stations. In fact, it will increase dependence on fossil fuels during periods of low wind. 

According to the planning application, the main purpose of the storage unit is to provide a quick injection of power to restore balance to the grid when there is a fall in system frequency. A fall in system frequency could occur when there is too much wind generation in the system and not enough conventional. According to the Lumcloon Energy website, the facility will need to respond within 5 seconds.

The storage unit is an appliance, like a washing machine, in that it will be a consumer of electricity. It could be called on at any time to inject power, so it will need to be fully charged at all times. So while it will be able to charge at night when there is surplus wind energy, it will also need to charge during periods of low wind thereby increasing dependence on fossil fuel. Therefore, it will be useful during periods of high wind, but a drain on the grid when there is no wind.  

Ireland's only pumped storage facility, Turlough Hill, is also a net consumer of electricity. It has a fixed regime, where it stores electricity at night when it is cheap to do so and exports electricity during the day when prices are higher. Lumcloon is similar but different. Turlough Hill trades in the single market like any other generator. Lumcloon, on the other hand will be paid for providing "system services".

These services must be provided to the grid when requested by the grid operator at short notice , unlike electricity which is bid into the market in a competitive pricing system in advance. They are high quality sophisticated high voltage and frequency services.

A grid run on low levels of renewable energy and supplied mostly by conventional generation plant [i.e coal , gas, hydro, nuclear etc] , does not need to provide such services as they are embedded in the product conventional generators provide.

The storage unit will not sell electricity back to the system ( and receive a price for this product the same as an hydro or wind plant would ) , instead it will receive special remuneration set by the regulator and this remuneration is an additional cost to the system and will have to be recovered from the consumer. 

So the net result from this project will be additional costs to the consumer and it will have little impact (or even none) on the reduction of fossil fuels. A long way from the hype in the media.


  1. Welcome to the brave new world of smart grids. The destabilisation of the national grid as we relentlessly expand intermittent electricity sources means that there is a greater need for "stabilising services" to keep the lights on.
    This makes smart business sense for canny developers - first install as much renewable generation as possible underpinned by REFIT/RESS, and then sell services to the grid operator to rectify all those intermittent renewables.
    All funded by that great little PSO levy. Paid for by unsmart consumers. Led by the noses.

    1. Create a problem and then charge the already stretched punter to fix it!

    2. There is no organized body, trade union or other representative association for electricity consumers. Government tried to facilitate racketeers entry into the water utility market, but were beaten by a public outcry. There is no corresponding outcry for electricity. One in five households in northern Ireland are in fuel poverty, I don't have the figures for the Republic, but I understand from charitable organisations that there are a lot. It is incorrect to say all this is paid for through the PSO levy. It is just a smokescreen to cover the real payment method. The only thing paid for through the PSO levy is the 1) difference between the spot price and the REFIT price, 2) A payment to promote renewable energy and 3) A management payment. No 1 is the biggest. The rest is paid for as part of the electricity supply. Pylons, grid upgrades, staff and all the fossil fuel back up. Rural communities are now preparing for a physical campaign of opposition to the installation of electrical infrastructure. Farmers own the land and have the right to be on the land, Eirgrid have way leave and have a right to be there two. So it will arrive in our courts which have already turned a blind eye to the illegitimate plan programme underpinning it all. My task is to channel this opposition against the established political parties. It does not mean I will succeed, but its the goal. Move Ireland into line with the populist movements which elected Trump and which recently happened in Italy and Hungry is Goal No 1. Pulling it all down again is Goal No 2.

  2. Carmel McCormack30 April 2018 at 11:13

    Based on the revenue earned by a recently installed 100MW Battery Energy Storage System BESS in South Australia then an ancillary service to the grid of just one 100MW BESS may cost Irish Citizens €200M+ per annum. To put this into context €200M per annum is about half of the current subsidies paid for the 3000MW of installed wind energy in Ireland via the PSO Levy.
    Is an additional cost to Irish Citizens of potentially €200M+ per annum per 100MW of installed largely unmanned remotely controlled Battery Storage really worth it for at best perhaps only 2 minutes of emergency electricity supply?
    Is it any wonder that there is such a tulip bulb/gold rush like mania to install so many of these useless sticking plaster Battery Energy Storage Systems in Ireland?
    The better solution to stabilise any national grid frequency excursions and prevent unnecessary load shedding, brown outs and blackouts would be to simply curtail the renewable wind energy.
    Wake Up Department of Finance, Wake Up Commission for Regulation of Utilities, Wake Up Ireland! Comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis and Technical Feasibility Studies urgently required for the National Renewable Energy experiment in general and specifically for all grid ancillary services such as Battery Energy Storage and Demand Side Units DSU's/diesel generators!

  3. These crazy renewable energy programs would fail a Technical Feasibility study and as as consequence a Cost Benefit Analysis. That is why the have refused and still refuse to do one. But the tax payer will still have to pay up for the inevitable failure of these renewable energy programs.

  4. Assuming its revenue flow will be based on the price difference between purchases of electricity and sales of stored electricity, it will have to do that every day to survive. It will not have the luxury of storing a full charge during week long periods of high winds and selling on the next calm day. Its an old concept discarded long ago. It's the by-product of a dysfunctional unaccountable government.

  5. It is interesting to read the Newsletter by Windworks.

    The link may not work, but just search (Google whatever) Windworks Power News letter 2018. It shows that the slightest cut in subsidies caused panic selling in Canada, Germany and Belgium. It is probable that they also slowly realize the load factors are lower than they were led to believe. This begs the question of why would anyone want to buy these loss makers. I think it's because a large section of society simply cannot count. Large fortunes were make by people who could count when governments and other investors could not. George Soros springs to mind.
    In Ireland there are three forces at work. 1) They overestimated the wind speeds wind farms by at least 25%. 2) They got lucky that investors did not spot this. 3) The renewable energy buzz blinded bankers. Its not really the wind companies who risk loosing all, its their bankers and ultimately bank investors and depositors.