Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Electricity: Norway's Big Battery Plan To Balance The UK Grid

Have I ever mentioned the intermittency problem in renewable energy?
From EnergyLive:

Statkraft and Statera join forces for 1GW of energy storage and flexible gas
The 15-year partnership will provide flexible energy services as part of the Norwegian energy giant’s UK-based virtual power plant

Statkraft and Statera Energy have joined forces to develop 1GW of energy storage and utility-scale, flexible gas-powered generation.

The 15-year partnership will provide flexible energy services as part of the Norwegian energy giant’s UK-based virtual power plant (VPP).

The 1GW VPP is made up of a mix of renewables, battery storage and flexible gas generation and will combine output from power sources in real time and compare this data against the energy markets.

Statkraft previously said this will allow it to effectively match supply with demand in “seconds” and optimise and trade power on the wholesale market more efficiently.

Under the new partnership, Statera – which is backed by global investment manager InfraRed Capital Partners – will provide Statkraft with one of the UK’s largest battery facilities, which will have a total capacity of 50MW....MORE
We call it "Norway's plan" because Statkraft is wholly-owned by the Norwegian government although a pretty big deal in it's own right.
On the intermittency of renewables, the U.S. government used to write treaties with the native folk for a term of "for as long as the wind blows, the grass grows, and the sky is blue” but as this review of the movie Little Big Man reminds us:

“Sometimes the wind don’t blow, the grass don’t grow, and the sky ain’t blue.”
—Jack Crabbe, age 121

The issue of intermittency is so important that a) you can't use 'nameplate capacity', you have to divide by three or four to get actual energy produced, b) the fact your electricity production is not consistent can so destabilize the grid that the whole thing has to shut down to protect itself, and c) to overcome this issue you have to build reliable back-up power for when the sun doesn't shine or the wind doesn't blow, usually on a megawatt-for-megawatt basis. Which is why the alternative approach, batteries, are the Holy Grail for venture capitalists.

One of our posts, "Lazard's Levelized Cost of Energy 2017: Renewables Win Out (until you add a battery for the intermittency problem)" is a good introduction.
For a deeper dive the sadly deceased-too-early Sir David J.C. MacKay wrote a pretty good book on energy in general and the challenges of renewables. We used to visit him once a year.

From our April 27, 2014 post "If It's April It Must Be Time to Visit Professor MacKay and His Map of the World":
...If you want to know more about what's going on with the map, do visit his map page.
MacKay used to hang his hat at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory.
I don't really know what they do at the lab, I think it's where the Nobel Prize in Physics is made.

Mackay left the lab in 2013 to be the University's first Regius Professor of Engineering.
He has a bunch of letters after his name....MORE
Before the Queen and Cambridge made him  Regius Prof. he had a part-time gig as Chief Scientific Adviser to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)

He put his book, "Sustainable Energy-without the hot air" on the internet. For free.

See also, if interested "Big-name VCs join Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos in their new 'Breakthrough Energy Coalition'"