First synchronous condenser system to stabilize Irish grid

May 5, 2021

The Moneypoint Synchronous Compensator with flywheel is a cost-effective, zero-carbon solution to strengthen the stability and resilience of the Irish grid.

Siemens Energy will supply a synchronous condenser system to the Electricity Supply Board (ESB), Ireland’s energy company. The grid stabilizing system will be developed at the Moneypoint power station located in South-West Ireland near Kilrush, County Clare.

The ESB recently announced the launch of Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint, an ambitious plan to transform the County Clare site into a green energy hub, where a range of renewable technologies will be deployed over the next decade with the capacity to power 1.6 million homes.

The synchronous condenser, a key component of the ESB’s Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project, will be the first in the country and incorporate the world’s largest flywheel used for grid stability. The facility will enable an increased integration of wind power into the Irish grid by providing sufficient inertia for frequency support, short-circuit power for system strength, and reactive power for voltage control. Commissioning of the new plant is planned for mid-2022.

Paul Smith, head of asset development at ESB Generation and Trading, said: “Because of the intermittency of wind energy in particular, grid stabilization technologies have an increasingly important role in a successful energy transition. We are pleased to bring forward the Moneypoint Synchronous Compensator with flywheel as a cost-effective and zero-carbon solution in strengthening the stability and resilience of the Irish grid. Siemens Energy provided an optimum technical and competitive solution for Moneypoint in its continuing key role in Ireland’s electricity system.”

Siemens Energy will deliver the synchronous condenser system, providing engineering, procurement, and construction. Key components are a control system that optimally fits to the overlaying grid automation system, a synchronous generator with circuit-breaker, and a flywheel.

Siemens Energy will also provide the preventive maintenance for 10 years with remote diagnostics. The synchronous condenser will, in turn, help the management of Ireland’s transmission system with a reduced dispatch of fossil fuel plants under constraints and reduced costs of transmission operations.

“Synchronous condensers are an important building block for mastering the transition to climate-neutral, CO2-free power generation,” said Beatrix Natter, executive vice president transmission at Siemens Energy. “We are proud that the ESB has chosen us to build the first system of this kind in Ireland. Our solution will provide the maximum possible inertia and reactive power to stabilize the Irish grid, helping the country press ahead with its ambitious plans for the expansion of renewable energies.”

Nick O’Mahony, managing director, Siemens Energy, Ireland, said: “The energy transition is happening at pace and to make sure the grid can keep up, we need to look at innovative solutions to keep the grid stable. I’m delighted we have been able to support the ESB with this project, bringing this key technology to the country.”

With the rising share of renewable power and the shutdowns of conventional plants, synchronous condensers are playing an increasingly important role in the grid. By means of the rotating mass of a conventional generator, the solution adjusts conditions on the transmission grid, provides the necessary inertia to support the grid frequency and short-circuit contribution while also providing or absorbing reactive power. In addition, synchronous condensers can diversify revenue for owners and operators while providing an important cash flow contribution.