Speakers’ Corner: ESB Networks, Denis O’Leary

This week, we continue our series where we ask our speakers 6 questions on Energy Storage, share their answers with you. Today we are pleased to feature the answers from the Head of Smart Energy Technologies of ESB Networks, Denis O’Leary. Enjoy!

One technical innovation in the field of energy storage which has excited me is the Ireland Energy Storage which consist primarily of three forms, large scale pump storage of which ESB owns a 292 MW power station (comprising 4 * 73 MW Units), Battery Storage in Electric Vehicles and Domestic Electric Storage Heating. While it is uncertain as to whether the economics of large scale pump storage plant will continue to be viable in a power system and market that is fast transitioning towards a smart grid model, there are nevertheless some developers with plans in this technology area. ESB is significantly advanced in its roll-out of a pilot EV charging infrastructure across Ireland and this will be completed by end 2013. While technology isn’t sufficiently advanced in terms of V2G capability, ESB sees real potential in electric vehicle battery charging (and storage) facilitating renewable electricity onto the power system. As such ESB is collaborating with a number of companies in research into the impact of EV charging loads on the electricity distribution system, and demonstration of EV charging methodologies, in particular with Intel for the development and trialling of its smart charging technology which will take heed of, among other things, the level of renewable generation on the power system, when optimising EV battery charging. While domestic storage heating has been a feature in Ireland for many years, the advent of smart storage heating will further leverage renewable energy on the system when it is available. ESB will shortly be participating in a trial of reasonable scale in this technology.

There is some uncertainty regarding what the advent of the Regional Electricity Market will mean in terms of the design of the wholesale electricity market for Ireland. This brings about questions such as: Will a pool-market design continue, or will some form of balancing market similar to those in effect across North West Europe prevail? This fundamental uncertainty creates difficulties in understanding how the commercial arrangements for energy storage might work. Nevertheless, it is clear that for power systems such as that in Ireland, where it is required that on average 40% electricity will come from renewable sources (the majority of it from wind) by 2020,that energy storage will have a significant role to play. For Ireland, some commentators are of the belief that the power system may need to accommodate up to 75% instantaneous wind at times, in order to achieve the EU 20-20-20 targets. Energy storage can play a part in limiting the commercial impact of power system constraint or curtailment regimes on renewable energy producers because of the variability of wind and the necessity to maintain a significant level of conventional power plant on the system for system security and ancillary services purposes.

The potential benefit of energy storage to the power system in Ireland is in the area of facilitation of renewables. However, there is much work to be done both in terms of technical evaluation of the various technologies on the system and determination of the necessary regulatory and commercial arrangements to make energy storage happen. In the meantime, other than the large scale pump storage generation that exists, energy storage in the short-term is likely to be restricted to EV charging and domestic storage heating.

Energy storage will definitely play an important role in the future grid. Large scale storage, such as pump storage or compressed air energy storage (CAES) may not be commercially viable. Smaller scale storage, if optimised through, for example, the aggregation of smart storage heating load , EV battery charging load or other domestic or I&C loads on the system may play a key role in facilitating renewable power onto the grid. Other technologies such as battery banks or the conversion of excess renewable power to hydrogen etc at times of (excess intermittent generation sources may all have a role to play in the future for renewable energy generators or producers. However, in order for the benefit of these technologies to be realised and maximised, certainty over technical (network compliance requirements), market (regulation) and commercial (system operator contracts etc) arrangements will be essential.

It would be useful for Forum delegates to discuss the various commercial arrangements underpinning storage technologies that are already in place in various jurisdictions, the services being provided under these contracts, the nature of the counterparties involved, the risks associated with such arrangements and the market revenue opportunities that exist outside of any such contracts. Similarly it would be beneficial to understand any constraints that exist on the optimum commercial operation of storage technologies (in various markets and on various power systems) arising through system operator codes or licences.

ESB’s experience with energy storage is that it owns a 292 MW pump storage power station (comprising 4 * 73 MW Units).We are also significantly advanced in the roll-out of a pilot EV charging infrastructure across Ireland and this will be completed by end 2013. We are collaborating with various parties on research into the impact of EV charging loads on the electricity distribution system, and demonstration of EV charging methodologies, in particular with Intel on the development and trialling of its smart charging technology which will take heed of, among other things, the level of renewable generation on the power system, when optimising EV battery charging.ESB will shortly be participating in a trial of smart storage heating devices.

Denis O’Leary will be speaking at The 6th Energy Storage World Forum about “Integrating High Levels Of Wind Penetration – Ireland Scenarios”, on Thursday, 25 April 2013.

 

If you want to know more about this and other topics directly from end users of energy storage technologies join us at one of these annual events: The Energy Storage World Forum (Grid Scale Applications), or The Residential Energy Storage Forum, or one of our Training Courses.

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