Europe’s wind energy output creates demand for energy storage

Europe’s growing wind industry needs to be matched with a rise in energy storage solutions.

Strong winds in Europe last week have resulted in some impressive wind power figures. These high winds helped the renewable energy sector achieve its highest ever output. In the UK, wind turbines produced a total of 9.5GW of power and Denmark’s wind power accounted for 137% of its nation’s demand.

The growing number of offshore wind farms off the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and a number of other European nations, coupled with high wind speeds have also set new records.

According to industry body EnAppSys, on Tuesday 6 June, 2.7% of the European Union’s power came from offshore wind farms, with offshore wind accounting for 10% of UK power demand.

EnAppSys said the large amount of electricity generated by both onshore and offshore wind farms across north-west Europe, resulted in power prices falling to record levels, at a tenth of their usual cost overnight.

While these impressive figures are exciting, Europe still lacks the large-scale energy storage devices that could store electricity during times of overproduction.

The need for innovative wind energy battery storage

Vendors and utilities have recognised the need for innovative storage solutions and there is already some activity on the horizon.  

For instance, Spanish wind power developer Acciona has just received an industry award for battery storage research. The company has responded to a growing need for hybrid solutions to improve power quality.  

Two Acciona employees, Asun Padrós and Raquel Rojo, won this year’s innovation award from industry body Asociación Empresarial Eólica (AEE) for a study of a hybrid wind and battery storage plant in Barásoain, Navarre, which entered operation in May this year.

The Acciona plant is equipped with two Samsung lithium-ion battery systems, one providing 1MW and 390KWh of power and the other producing 700KW and 700KWh of energy, connected to a 3MW wind turbine.

“The advantage of the model they have used is that it mimics real Spanish electricity market conditions and poses different wind generation and pricing scenarios on the wholesale and balancing markets,” said Alberto Ceña, technical services coordinator in a statement.

He added that while this particular model is unique, other wind industry players have been experimenting with battery storage for a while now.  

Danish utility Dong, for instance, plans to install a 2MW battery system at its 90MW Burbo Bank offshore wind farm, which is connected to the UK grid. The battery system will be operational by the end of this year and will be used for frequency response. “It will be the first time an offshore wind farm is integrated with a battery system to deliver frequency response to the grid,” said Dong in a press release.

Financial viability of wind farms

Danish manufacturer Vestas has also expressed an interest in the energy storage market as it recognises that it will increase the global use of wind power and reduce costs.

"The storage side is interesting, and there are a lot of small startups that might be of interest. I’m looking for industry batteries," Vestas chairman Bert Nordberg told newswire. "If you can store over-production in a good way, it would take down the total cost."

Norwegian state-owned oil company Statoil has also said it plans to add a 1MWh lithium-ion battery system to a floating offshore wind farm by the end of next year. The wind farm, called Batwind, has been designed to capture excess wind power, reduce balancing costs and increase revenues through price arbitrage.

Aris Karcanias, a Senior Managing Director at FTI Consulting and Co-lead of the Clean Energy practice, says that while most companies have been developing storage solutions for the off-grid sector to help reduce reliability on diesel, many are now turning their attention to the opportunities that the on-grid segment is offering.