Drogenbos to store renewable energy on a large scale
This will be a first in Belgium. The redevelopment of the site of the Drogenbos gas-fired power station is just beginning. And what a redevelopment it will be, resolutely looking to the future, since it is now destined to function as an electricity storage facility. Welcome to the ENGIE’s new Energy Storage Park.
Conventional power stations consistently ensure adjustable, predictable power generation. If they are replaced (as will increasingly be the case) by less predictable solar and wind energy, a solution will have to be found to continue guaranteeing a steady supply of electricity and safeguard grid stability. For the grid requires a constant balance between power generation and consumption. So what’s the solution? Master the large-scale storage of electricity.
To this end, through its Business Unit Generation Europe, ENGIE will test large-capacity batteries at its Drogenbos gas-fired power station.
“We want to know how best to provide grid support services”, says Christophe Billiouw, Chief Operating Officer at the Drogenbos site. “We’ll then test different types of batteries to find out which are best suited to this kind of application. We’ll also look at how we can ensure security of supply for our industrial customers. Furthermore, the experience we gain will help us support our customers in making the transition to sustainable energy consumption.”
20 MWh storage capacity
Several containers containing batteries, transformers, converters and computers have been installed at ENGIE’s Energy Storage Park. The aim is to conduct trials on storing 20 MWh of renewable energy. “Such a capability could help Elia, Belgium’s transmission system operator, increase the stability and reliability of supply”, says Pascal Renaud of BU Generation Europe, which manages and runs ENGIE’s thermal generation activities in nine European countries.
This will the first time that large batteries have been tested in Belgium. ENGIE’s Energy Storage Park will simultaneously serve as both a test bed and a laboratory. ENGIE will start by testing lithium batteries with a maximum capacity of 6 MW, produced by four different manufacturers, exposing them all to the same conditions. “The goal will be not only to test these large-capacity batteries, but also to try out new storage technologies, including methods involving compressed air, flywheels and redox flow batteries”, Pascal Renaud continues. “All these solutions are likely to optimise energy management and storage.”
Commissioning scheduled for October
Why Drogenbos? “It’s not just about reusing existing infrastructure and sites”, Pascal Renaud adds. “It will also give staff who originally worked in a conventional power station an opportunity to retrain for jobs in a very buoyant sector.” For electricity storage will definitely be a key area in years to come, as we use more renewables and less fossil energy.
Starting in October 2017, the facilities at ENGIE’s Energy Storage Park should be able to draw electricity from the grid when too much power is being generated, store it in the batteries and then reinject it into the system when needed. Moreover, the project will give ENGIE a clearer understanding of how batteries work and enable it to test different energy models and gain experience in battery procurement, use and operation. What’s more, it will help the Group take another step forward in the energy transition.