As the energy transition gains momentum, countries and energy companies alike are addressing extended grid challenges. Most of those challenges are connected to the smart grid resilience and the reliability of the infrastructure. In two recent examples, both the Iraqi and the Irish governments have assigned Siemens Energy to find a solution to their grid problems.
After all, it is not a secret that governments and utilities globally are investing in digital technologies and advanced grid equipment to ensure the reliability and the resilience of their grid networks. The need to ensure a stable supply of energy during times when demand is high (and when a plethora of countries keep retiring coal-fired power plants), has increased the need for real-time visibility of the grid network. This is leading to increased investments in technologies such as supervisory control and data acquisition systems and digital substations.
Examples of utilities and governments recently embarking on projects aimed at modernising their grid systems to ensure a stable supply of electricity include the Iraqi government and the Irish utility Electricity Supply Board. The two have signed contracts with technology firm Siemens Energy for the provision of digital solutions, equipment and managed services.
The Iraqi project
Using funding secured from German-bank kfw, the Ministry of Electricity of the Republic of Iraq is developing a 400KV super grid station for the reliability and efficiency of its power supply in partnership with Siemens Energy.
The Mosul Station will replace one that was destroyed in 2014 and provide electricity to approximately some thirty 132KV stations in the province of Nineveh. By ensuring the stability of the transmission network in the province, the project is aimed at mitigating power cuts for some 700,000 citizens.
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Eng. Khalid Ghazay Attia, director-general, Electricity Transmission Company (ESB), Northern Region, Iraq, said: “Strengthening the national grid and scaling up its stability is a focal priority for us as demand for power in Iraq increases due to a growing population and to support industries and development projects in the country
“The new Mosul station aims to bring predictable power to support the reconstruction and rebuilding of the Nineveh Governorate, recovering now from years of war. We’re already working on comprehensive grid projects across the country in collaboration with international partners, like Siemens Energy, to deploy the most reliable and advanced technologies.”
In this case, Siemens Energy will be responsible for the design of the super grid, provision of equipment, construction, site delivery, erection, testing and commissioning. The technology company has also been tasked with the supply of 13 digital substations for the projects. This follows Siemens Energy delivering some 35 high voltage transformers in helping the ministry to evolve the country’s grid network.
Siemens Energy and the Irish project
On the other hand, in Ireland, Siemens Energy has been tasked with the provision and installation of grid stabilising technology, a synchronous condenser system, to help the grid to exceed its renewables penetration limit.
The Moneypoint power station in South-West Ireland near Kilrush, County Clare will hosts the synchronous condenser system as part of ESB’s Green Atlantic @ Moneypoint renewable energy transition strategy. ESB plans to deploy renewable energy capacity to power 1.6 million households in County Clare under the strategy.
The synchronous is Ireland’s first and will comprise the world’s largest flywheel used for grid stability, according to a statement. Once complete in mid-2022, the project will be used to provide sufficient inertia for frequency support, short-circuit power for system strength, and reactive power for voltage control. These services are vital for utilities as the intermittency of renewable energy provides challenges for utilities to meet baseload energy demand using clean sources. The project will enable more capacity from wind energy to be integrated into the Irish main grid network.
In this case, Siemens Energy will supply the flywheel, synchronous generator, circuit breaker and grid automation system in addition to the engineering, procurement and construction services. Siemens Energy will provide preventive maintenance for ten years with remote diagnostics.
Beatrix Natter, executive vice president transmission at Siemens Energy, said: “Synchronous condensers are an important building block for mastering the transition to climate-neutral, CO2-free power generation.”
Nick O’Mahony, managing director, Siemens Energy, Ireland, added: “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.”
What do these two projects demonstrate?
The resilience of the smart grid is a vast thematic “umbrella” that can include many and various topics. Precisely like the two examples above demonstrate, grid resilience can be, for example, about renewable integration, as well as efficiency of the power supply to a utility’s customers.
What those two examples also demonstrate – and that is very important – is that grid resilience is not only relevant for utilities any more, but for governments and governmental organisations also, that wish to protect their grid infrastructure and their citizens, by minimising the damage from outages as well as their duration.