Projects progress in Ireland and Germany

16 February 2023

With installation of a synchronous compensator in Q4 2022, ESB says it has completed stage one of its Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint project, which aims to transform the Co Clare Moneypoint coal plant site in Ireland into a “renewable energy hub.”

Above: Moneypoint site. The synchronous compensator is located in the white building in the foreground

Next stages of the project include:

  • Development by ESB of a 1400 MW floating wind farm off the coast of Counties Clare and Kerry, expected to be in operation within the next decade.
  • Establishment at Moneypoint of a centre for the construction of floating wind facilities, making use of a deep-water port that already exists at the site, and, in the longer term, supporting plans for Shannon Foynes port and the Shannon Estuary to become “a focal point for the offshore wind industry in Europe.”
  • Investment in green hydrogen production, storage and power generation at Moneypoint towards the end of the decade.

Siemens Energy supplied the synchronous compensator (aka condenser) under an EPC contract. Equipped with a flywheel that is thought to be the largest ever employed in this application, the new €50 million installation, called the Sustainable System Support facility, will be capable of providing 4000 MW.s of inertia (equivalent to two of the existing Moneypoint coal-fired units), helping to accommodate a growing share of renewables, while maintaining grid stability.

Meanwhile in Germany, Siemens Energy is supplying three grid stabilisation systems that have been commissioned by the German-Dutch grid operator TenneT. They are scheduled to enter operation in 2025.

Two of the three systems are synchronous compensators (similar to that at Moneypoint), to be located at Großkrotzenburg (Hesse) and Wu¨rgassen (North Rhine-Westphalia). TenneT is currently modernising the Wu¨rgassen substation, and plans to similarly upgrade Großkrotzenburg over the next years, with the aim of making these locations key network hubs.

The third of the three new grid stabilisation projects is described by Siemens Energy as “a technological premiere” and is said to be “the world’s first reactive power compensation system with supercapacitors. Called SVC PLUS FS (Static Var Compensator + Frequency Stabiliser (SVC PLUS FS), it will use supercapacitors to provide short term energy storage.

The supercapacitors are able to counteract fluctuations in the grid frequency either by actively charging themselves for a short time, thereby withdrawing up to 200 megawatts from the grid, or by feeding the stored power into the grid, says Siemens Energy. This enables the SVC PLUS FS to “respond to fluctuations in the grid much more quickly than conventional battery storage solutions.” It also requires a third of the space.

The site for the SVC PLUS FS is Mehrum in Lower Saxony. This state produces by far the most onshore wind energy in Germany, observes Siemens Energy, and “here in particular, grid expansion is an important prerequisite for a reliable power supply.”

“The main strength of the European power grid is its resilience”, said Tim Holt, member of the managing board at Siemens Energy. “To ensure that this remains the case in the future, investments in grid stability are extremely important...There’s no time to lose, because the energy transition isn’t just a matter of replacing fossil fuels with renewables. Ultimately, electricity also has to be reliably delivered to consumers’ outlets. That’s also the motivation behind this project.”

Siemens Energy synchronous compensator, as deployed at Moneypoint
Flywheel at Moneypoint

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