Battery flywheel system to balance UK’s energy grid

A flywheel battery hybrid energy storage system is to help alleviate growing pressure on Europe’s grid infrastructure.
Published: Wed 07 Jun 2017

Europe’s largest battery flywheel system will be connected to the Irish and UK grids to help alleviate pressure caused by the country’s growing energy demand.

The system, a first for the UK, forms part of a new project involving engineers from the University of Sheffield, Schwungrad Energie, Adaptive Balancing Power and Freqcon.

The €4m project, with €2.9m funded by the European Union (EU’s) Horizon2020 scheme, is aimed at developing a flywheel battery hybrid energy storage system to help stabilise pressure on Europe’s grid infrastructure.  

Coordinated by German energy storage company Schwungrad Energie, the project involves partners Adaptive Balancing Power which will provide its adaptive flywheel technology. Freqcon will design and build scalable multi-source power converters to connect the flywheels to the grid.

During the first stage of the project, the flywheel facility will be installed in Ireland, piloted by Schwungrad Energie at their hybrid flywheel battery facility in collaboration with EirGrid.

According to Jake Bracken, from Schwungrad Energie, the existing Hybrid Flywheel-Battery Facility has concluded a trial with EirGrid, successfully demonstrating the technology’s capability to rapidly inject power following a frequency event.

He says: “When implemented at commercial scale, the technology will assist in overcoming the challenges of operating a power system with increased levels of renewables. The adaptive flywheel and multi-source inverter being demonstrated by this project have the potential to increase the competitiveness of the solution.”

The flywheel system’s peak power is set at 500kW, with a storage capability of 10kWh.

The system will then be installed at the University of Sheffield’s 2MW battery facility at Willenhall near Wolverhampton. The grid-connected research facility is one of the largest and fastest battery storage systems in the UK.

The flywheels will be upgraded to provide 1MW of peak power and 20kWh of energy storage and used as a hybrid energy storage system with the batteries to provide frequency response services.

UK’s volatile national grid

According to Dr Dan Gladwin, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Sheffield, the UK’s national grid is becoming increasingly volatile due to the rising share of intermittent renewable energy sources. He added: “This manifests itself in deviations from the nominal 50Hz frequency as demand outweighs supply or vice versa.”

Battery and flywheel technologies can provide a rapid response and can export and import energy enabling this technology to respond to periods of both under and over frequency, he added.

Fast acting frequency response services, such as those provided by this hybrid solution, are a key enabler to the realisation of a high penetration of renewables – recognised by the Irish System Operators DS3 Programme for System Services.

Energy storage - UK priority

The UK’s government has recently announced that energy storage is a key priority for the country. The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is expected to release a policy around energy storage later this year.

A report by the National Infrastructure Commission suggests that energy storage can contribute to innovations that have the potential to save consumers £8 billion a year by 2030 and create a more sustainable energy future for generations to come.

UK energy storage market advanced

Battery storage in the UK is set to become one of the fastest growth segments within the country’s energy sector.

The current growth in the sector comes from the success of advanced energy storage projects in a tender to provide 200MW of enhanced frequency response to the grid, as well as providing 500MW of a total 3.2GW of capacity procured in a recent capacity market auction, designed to ensure security of supply.