Ocean Battery, the new utility-scale offshore energy storage

Ocean Battery, the new utility-scale offshore energy storage

The transition towards renewable power generation is a huge challenge. The fast-growing offshore wind power production results in an exponential demand for large-scale energy storage.

At CES 2022, Dutch startup Ocean Grazer has launched a new design for an energy storage system that functions a bit like a hydroelectric dam at the bottom of the sea.

The “Ocean Battery” installed at the seabed is a modular utility-scale energy storage system that is produced by renewable sources such as wind turbines, floating solar farms, tidal and wave energy systems. The battery is pumped hydro system in a box that provides eco-friendly utility-scale energy storage up to GigaWatt hours (GWh) scale. It is efficient, has low maintenance costs and is designed with a sustainable planet in mind, and enhances marine life.

The Ocean Battery is based on hydro dam technology that has proven itself for over a century as highly reliable and efficient. The technology does not require rare earth materials and uses clean water as the energy carrier.

The concrete reservoir buried in the seabed holds up to 20 million liters of freshwater stored at low pressure. To store energy, the system pumps water from the rigid reservoirs into the flexible bladder on the seabed. Now the energy is stored as potential energy in the form of water under high pressure. When there is demand for power, water flows back from the flexible bladders to the rigid low-pressure reservoirs, driving multiple hydro turbines to generate electricity.

According to the company, the system has an efficiency of about 80% and should be able to run an unlimited number of cycles over an operation lifetime of more than 20 years. Yet deploying systems like the “ocean battery” on the scale needed to work as part of an electricity grid is still years away. The company aims to have an offshore system in place by 2025, though one will be deployed onshore in the northern Netherlands by 2023.

Green Infrastructure Week 25-29 April 2022

Green Infrastructure Week 25-29 April 2022

The UK now has an official national awareness week for Green Infrastructure.

The inaugural Green Infrastructure Week is taking place between the 25/29 April 2022 and will continue annually. It is supported by dozens of associations.

Green Infrastructure Week highlights the British technologies that will be used to deliver the biggest gains in our transition to net zero. Delivering insight and commentary for the whole ecosystem of people and

Why is Green Infrastructure Week important?

The Green Industrial Revolution underpinned by the Ten Point Plan will mobilise £12bn of government funding and require £36bn of private investment to deliver. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also said “We will turn the UK into the world’s number one centre for green technology and finance, laying the foundations for decades of economic growth.”

Green Infrastructure Week is aligned with the government’s position and will highlight both our world-class skills and services in research, science & engineering, and recognise the technologies already moving at pace.

Our challenge is to not only deliver green infrastructure in the UK to reach net zero, but to sell on the international stage to drive our economy and global decarbonisation – in a global market anticipated to be worth several hundred billion pounds by 2050.

Society needs net zero and green infrastructure will deliver it

Net zero is fast becoming the world’s best answer to stopping climate change. The UK became the world’s first major economy to pass laws to end our contribution to climate change, committing the nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.

Other governments have followed including Japan and Canada, plus the full 27 countries of the EU. Governments with proposed legislation include South Korea and Chile, whilst 37 other governments have a policy document that should lead to proposed legislation – this list includes the USA, China and Brazil.

Net zero looks set to be adopted as the best strategy to protect us and the natural world from rising global temperatures by over 150 nations within the next few years with the vast majority aiming for 2050.


Quinbrook Commissions First New Synchronous Condenser for the UK Power Market

Quinbrook Commissions First New Synchronous Condenser for the UK Power Market

Specialist global investment manager focused on renewables, storage and grid support infrastructure, Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners, has announced it has completed construction and commissioning of a new synchronous condenser installation at Rassau, in Ebbw Vale, South Wales, expected to support the stable decarbonisation of the UK electricity supply.

Quinbrook partnered with Welsh Power in the development of the project from concept stage and with Siemens Energy for the construction of Rassau, which can now provide multiple grid support services including: inertia to strengthen the grid; short circuit power to ensure a reliable operation; and reactive power for voltage control2. Siemens Energy committed to the use of local contractors and specialists during construction and since the commencement of civil works in September 2020, more than 300 personnel have been employed on site.

“We view the UK’s ‘Net Zero’ transformation as an unprecedented investment opportunity with a diverse array of attractive thematics” said Rory Quinlan, Co-founder and Managing Partner of Quinbrook. “Quinbrook targets the next generation of critical infrastructure investment that arises directly from the maturation of renewables as the dominant source of power in the UK. Crucially, our ‘whole of system’ approach puts the emphasis on addressing critical system needs and enablers. By delivering innovative and high-impact investments such as the Rassau Synchronous Condenser, our aim is to enable more renewables capacity to be built in the UK, thereby directly contributing to carbon emissions reduction and real progress towards Net Zero. Rassau is an excellent and timely example of how the energy transition has moved well beyond wind and solar. Additionally, by creating substantial employment opportunities and investment in the communities around the locations of Rassau and the wider Pathfinder portfolio we are proposing, we have the ability to directly support the UK Government’s levelling up agenda to reduce geographic inequality across the country.”

Historically, grid stability in the UK’s power systems has been maintained by large synchronous power plants predominantly fuelled by carbon-intensive coal and gas. These older fossil plants are being phased out and non-synchronous renewable generators, such as wind and solar, pose new reliability challenges as they do not possess the same grid stabilising properties. Due to the rapid proliferation of renewables across the UK, National Grid launched the Pathfinder Programme to source new ways to provide critical grid stability services. Rassau will now offer these services to National Grid using the synchronous condenser technology which operates on a continuous 24/7 basis.

National Grid’s Stability Pathfinder programme offers indexed, long-term contracts to secure essential grid support services from projects like Rassau. The projects that secured a contract in National Grid’s Phase 1 of the Pathfinder Programme6 are expected to collectively save consumers up to GBP 128 million over six years.

The Rassau synchronous condenser project adds to Quinbrook’s recent investments in UK companies all strategically supporting the energy transition including Flexitricity and Habitat Energy and solidifies Quinbrook’s early move into the supply of critical flexible capacity, storage and grid support infrastructure that enables more variable and weather-dependent renewables capacity to be safely accommodated on the UK power grid.

Renewable energy storage projects handed funding boost

Renewable energy storage projects handed funding boost

Nearly £7m in government funding has been awarded to projects across the UK to support the development of new energy storage technologies.

Energy storage will be crucial as the UK transitions towards cheap, clean, domestically produced renewable energy. Maximising the potential of renewables will help lower costs in the shift to a greener energy system.

The intermittent nature of renewables such as solar and wind power means that energy can be produced when it is not needed, such as during extended periods of high wind. However, as new technologies are developed, this energy can be stored for longer, helping manage electricity generation variations and increasing resilience, while also maximising value for money.

Twenty-four projects based across the UK have been awarded the first round of funding through the ‘Longer Duration Energy Storage competition’, which is worth £68m in total. These projects will benefit from a share of over £6.7m to develop new energy-storage technologies that can use stored energy as heat, electricity or as a low-carbon energy carrier like hydrogen.

Ranging from the development of thermal batteries to converting energy to hydrogen, the projects have been selected because of their potential to improve technology performance and reduce the cost of meeting net zero. Successful projects could benefit from a greater tranche of funding from a second phase of the competition, which will support these projects towards commercialisation, encouraging private investment and creating new jobs.

Greg Hands, energy and climate change minister, said: “Driving forward energy storage technologies will be vital in our transition towards cheap, clean and secure renewable energy.

“It will allow us to extract the full benefit from our home-grown renewable energy sources, drive down costs and end our reliance on volatile and expensive fossil fuels. Through this competition we are making sure the country’s most innovative scientists and thinkers have our backing to make this ambition a reality.”

As part of the UK government’s commitment to reach net zero, the transition to clean, renewable energy is being accelerated, shifting to a green electricity grid by stepping up the use of clean energy sources such as wind and solar power.

The aim is to reduce the UK’s dependence on expensive fossil fuels, as well as providing cheaper energy to consumers. It could also mean that more of the UK’s energy is produced domestically. The green energy transition involves ensuring the UK’s electricity infrastructure can cope with greater shares of renewables, while meeting power demands securely.

The £6.7m funding has been awarded under Phase 1 of the ‘Longer Duration Energy Storage Demonstration’ competition, part of the government’s £1bn ‘Net Zero Innovation Portfolio’. Phase 2 will see the remainder of the £68m funding awarded to several of the most promising Phase 1 projects, to proceed to build and demonstrate their technology fully. Selecting projects for the next stage will take place upon the completion of Phase 1, whereby projects will be assessed based on their potential to commercialise their technologies.

Energy storage projects receiving Phase 1 funding include:

  • Sunamp’s EXTEND project, East Lothian, Scotland – this will receive £149,893 for a feasibility study to further develop the storage duration of its thermal batteries. The project will look to pair its heat batteries with household energy systems to tackle periods of low renewables generation on the grid.
  • Cheesecake Energy’s FlexiTanker project, Nottingham, England – this will receive £139,411 to develop its thermal and compressed-air energy storage technology to integrate more renewables into the grid, helping to fast-track the decarbonisation of the UK electricity system.
  • B9 Energy Storage’s Ballylumford Power-to-X project, Larne, Northern Ireland – this will receive £986,082 to mobilise an innovative 20MW Power-to-X project at Ballylumford. Green hydrogen produced by electrolysers will be stored in underground salt caverns and used for transport and to displace natural gas in fuel-blending trials. This project paves the way for future large-scale deployments connected to offshore wind farms.

Andrew Bissell, chief executive officer, Sunamp, said: “For the past decade, we have focused on decarbonising hot water and have delivered a world-beating 20,000 heat batteries using our phase change material into the market so far and we are now bringing forward our Central Bank products for heat. Our thermal storage technology can be combined with heat pumps to deliver more than twice as much heat per unit of electricity on demand than direct electric heating.

“This funding will accelerate how we can further enhance thermal storage duration, working with wind energy from the grid and solar PV in homes, to provide heat and water during extended intervals of low renewables generation when green power is not available on the grid, eventually reducing the overall cost of operation to be lower than gas.”

A full list of the projects receiving funding under Phase 1 is available online.

24 GW of long duration electricity storage needed to integrate wind power into net zero electricity system

24 GW of long duration electricity storage needed to integrate wind power into net zero electricity system

A new report from Aurora Energy Research shows that up to 24GW of long duration electricity storage (LDES) could be needed to integrate wind power into a secure net zero electricity system. This is equivalent to eight times the current installed capacity.

The UK’s net zero strategy to decarbonise the power system fully by 2035 is subject to security of supply being maintained.With gas-fired generation currently the main flexible resources available to balance intermittent solar and wind, Aurora’s report finds this target is unachievable without urgent investment in viable low-carbon alternatives.  

LDES can provide flexible but reliable capacity enabling increased utilisation of renewables, enhanced system stability and resilience, according to the Long duration electricity storage in GB report. 

LDES include pumped storage and a range of innovative new technologies that can store electricity for four hours or more in order to supply firm, flexible and fast responding energy that is valuable for managing a high renewables system 

Aurora’s report demonstrates the benefits LDES could provide to the GB energy system by contributing towards security of supply and reducing emissions, costs and reliance on gas.

The need for LDES has been recognised by policymakers but at present, high upfront costs, long lead times, a lack of revenue certainty and missing market signals, lead to underinvestment, the report concludes.

Policy support and market reforms can provide revenue certainty and address missing markets to recognise the full value of LDES to enable the deployment of LDES projects. 

Aurora Energy Research head of commissioned projects for Western Europe Felix Chow-Kambitsch said: “The UK’s Net Zero strategy has accelerated the deployment of wind and solar, and this has resulted in a large requirement for Long Duration Electricity Storage to balance the intermittent renewables. 

Aurora’s report demonstrates the importance of LDES in facilitating the UK’s decarbonisation targets.

“LDES provides a valuable contribution to system security and operability in a high renewables energy system.

“In addition to providing low carbon firm capacity, LDES technologies also provide a wide range of balancing and ancillary services to help manage the electricity network.”

SSE Renewables managing director Stephen Wheeler added: “Cost-effectively and securely decarbonising the UK’s electricity system by 2035 will require a range of flexible home-grown long duration storage technologies.  

This timely study by Aurora finds that to achieve the government’s ambition, an eight-fold increase in long duration storage capacity is needed.

“This amount of storage capacity will not only play a major role in reducing emissions, but also significantly reduce the UK’s reliance on imported gas and in return, keep household energy bills lower and less volatile. 

The introduction of a new policy mechanism such as the Cap and Floor could unlock the investment required in projects such as our 1500MW Coire Glas pumped storage project which has the standalone capability to more than double the UK’s total electricity storage capacity and significantly scale up system flexibility.”

National Grid gets renewables grid stability option

National Grid gets renewables grid stability option

National Grid ESO is to procure grid stability services from renewable generators for the first time.

From today wind, wave and solar generators will be able to offer the kind of stability services which have traditionally been delivered by conventional generators.

The move is seen as crucial to decarbonising the power system and enabling net zero, according to National Grid ESO.

It has been facilitated by a “game changing” modification to the GB Grid Code – the rulebook that sets the specification for everything that connects to the grid.

This Grid Code change sets a specification for “grid forming” or virtual synchronous machine capability which will enable renewable generators across Britain and interconnectors to compete to provide stability services alongside operators of synchronous generation.

National Grid ESO’s markets team Tony Johnson, who led the project, said: “This is a breakthrough moment, a key piece in the energy transition jigsaw, that will ensure we can operate a fully decarbonised grid and deliver on our net zero commitments.

“It’s the culmination of up to 10 years of thinking and working with stakeholders to find the common ground between what equipment is capable of doing and what the system needs.

“It also ensures that as we transition away from conventional fossil fuelled generation, we can operate the grid securely and efficiently, which will ultimately save consumers money.”

The code change means interested stakeholders can now prepare their equipment to meet the required specification to be able to participate in the procurement process for system services including providing inertia and frequency support.

This is currently being progressed through National Grid ESO’s stability pathfinder projects.

Having a stable grid is crucial to delivering a reliable electricity supply.

It ensures a steady frequency of 50Hz is maintained and voltages don’t fluctuate which also protects equipment.

“Grid forming” ability allows converter connected equipment (equipment connected to the network through a HVDC converter, such as renewable generation or interconnectors) to provide system stability support in a similar way to conventional generators that are directly connected to the transmission system.

It is achieved by the converter’s control system responding very quickly to system conditions which simulates the response of traditional plant.

This supports the transition of the system away from conventional fossil fuelled generation, ensures continued system security as this transition takes place and saves consumers money by helping the ESO to efficiently operate the system.

Britain is the first country to have achieved this step, which is being watched with interest by system operators and manufacturers around the world.

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