grid stabilisation
Image credit: Siemens Energy

Work to construct one of the UK’s first grid stabilisation facilities has been started by Siemens Energy, who has been appointed to design, manufacture, install and commission the new site in South Wales, UK, on behalf of independent power developer, Welsh Power.

The facility, located at Rassau, Ebbw Vale will see Siemens Energy’s rotating grid stabilisation technology installed at the site to manage grid stability, which is essential if the UK is to achieve a net zero-carbon energy system.

The technology, which consists of a synchronous condenser and flywheel provides inertia to strengthen the grid, short circuit power to ensure reliable operation, and reactive power for voltage control.

Such technology is needed due to changes in the UK’s electricity system, which has seen a reduction in the number of large spinning generators, historically fossil-fueled power stations, connected to the grid, as the system moves towards renewable power.

Through the addition of a synchronous condenser, grid stability can be provided, without any power being generated, ultimately meaning more renewable power can be used on the network.

In addition to providing the grid stabilisation technology, Siemens Energy will also provide control and operating systems, the cooling system and auxiliary equipment as well as connecting the site to the grid, with a 132kV step-up transformer equipped as Sensformer unit. Fitted with connectivity and intelligence the Sensformer offers access to real-time digital data for optimised operation.

Siemens Energy will use local contractors and specialists during construction and commenced civil works to ready the site in September 2020.

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Steve Scrimshaw, vice president, Siemens Energy UK&I said: “This is a groundbreaking project for Wales and the UK, using innovative, world-class technology as well as local contractors and specialists. As we move through the energy transition, innovative ideas and thinking will be crucial to maintaining the stability and security of energy supplies, as well as reaching net zero.”

Hauke Jürgensen, head of large transmission solutions, Siemens Energy, said: “The transmission system in the UK is coming under pressure in the move to decarbonize and projects such as this will be vital to keeping the lights on. Through our transmission system know-how, we are delighted to see these innovative projects, using our proven and maintenance-friendly technology, support grid stability in the UK electricity system.”

Once operational, the facility will be able to provide approximately 1% of the inertia needed to operate National Grid securely, with zero emissions, within 15 minutes of instruction.

Welsh Power was awarded a contract to provide stability services to National Grid Energy System Operator earlier this year and expects the new plant to be operational by autumn 2021.

Alastair Fraser, CEO Welsh Power said: “Both ourselves and our partner Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners are pleased to be working with a world-class company such as Siemens Energy on this pioneering project. Welsh Power are investing in the developing grid stability market in the UK and hope this is the first of a series of such projects.”