What is believed to be Europe’s first grid connected hybrid flywheel system service facility has been announced by Ireland’s minister of state at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Ged Nash.
Irish energy storage company Schwungrad Energie Limited is behind the initiative, which will be based in Rhode, County Offaly in central Ireland. It is being developed in collaboration with the Department of Physics & Energy at University of Limerick, where a team led by Professor Noel Buckley and Dr Robert Lynch are focused on electrochemical batteries for large scale energy storage and grid stabilization. The work will include research and modelling.
The project is being supported by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 programme. The first phase of up to €2.55 million was received by Schwungrad in December 2014. Additional investment and support is being provided by Offaly-based engineering company, RR Projects, as well as by the US flywheel storage technology developer Beacon Power.
“This announcement is great news for Offaly and the midlands region in general,” said Minister Nash. “It is also an exciting development in terms of clean energy technology and I want to wish Schwungrad Energie well with the project.”
The project is expected to create approximately 30-40 jobs during the construction phase which is now underway. A further 10-15 sustainable jobs should follow.
EirGrid demonstration project
The project has been selected by Ireland’s transmission system operator (TSO) EirGrid as a potential “demonstration project” under its smart grid programme.
Schwungrad and EirGrid are investigating possible collaboration on how best to operate the plant to provide rapid frequency response and voltage control, in order to contribute to system stabilization.
“EirGrid will have a keen interest in the results,” commented Doireann Barry of EirGrid. “This project has the potential to address system operation issues including advanced voltage controls and system services reserve provision. This could provide additional flexibility to the grid and facilitate the integration of high levels of variable renewable energy sources.”
Ireland’s target is 40% of electricity demand from renewable energy by 2020.
System services for TSOs
With commercialization of the technology, Schwungrad intends to provide system services to transmission system operators (TSOs) in Europe.