Buffering the Energy Crisis with Windpower and Storage
In the typical Belgian winter fog, Esmeralda Peleman, CEO of Peleman Industries, looks with satisfaction at the on-site 2 MWh battery storage system against whose backdrop two windturbines are turning leisurely. “We have been using the storage system to increase our self-consumption for almost five years, but the last 18 months have been crazy”, she comments.
As a manufacturer and distributor of high-end printable products, the company needs loads of power. Since power from the grid is more expensive than locally generated electricity, Peleman started early to look for partners from the energy sector who could help out. In comes Eneco, a Dutch/Belgian power producer who has a proven track record of taking the transition towards renewables seriously. Building four windturbines in the industry park overall, two of them on Peleman premises, was the first step to increase energy self-sufficiency and put a stop to rising energy prices and grid charges. But driven by economics and especially by its sustainability goals, Peleman pushed even more. Was it possible to further increase the rate of wind power self-consumption?
“We had already reached a rate of around 75 % in self-consumption with the windturbines on site, but to further increase that proportion, we needed a storage system”, explains Iwein Goigne, General Manager of Eneco Solar Belgium. “The problem was that the investment costs for setting up a suitable battery storage on site would not pay off with the further savings of increased self-consumption. So we had to find another source of income for the battery.”
The idea of offering the battery’s capacity for ancillary services was born, and Cologne-based Next Kraftwerke came onboard. Today, the battery provides frequency containment reserve (FCR) to the Belgian transmission grid operator Elia, thus helping to keep the grid stable when unexpectedly high or low feed-in causes imbalances. The compensation for this valuable service comes from Next Kraftwerke, who integrated the battery in its FCR fleet within the Virtual Power Plant Next Pool and offers the battery’s capacity on the ancillary services market. An astonishing 80% of the battery’s capacity, equaling 1,6 MWh, can be used for FCR. Since FCR is a symmetrical product, meaning that each reserve provider has to be able to adjust power generation or consumption upwards and downwards at all times, the battery is charged to a level of around 70% with power from the windturbines nearby. The rest of its upwards and downwards capacity is then bid on the market and utilized by the grid operator to smooth out physical imbalances in grid frequency within milliseconds.
“Next Kraftwerke showed great flexibility in helping with the business case, they helped us to combine the goals of increasing on-site self-consumption and delivering FCR to the grid”, Iwein Goigne adds. “Additionally, the experience Next Kraftwerke has in dealing with FCR from small and medium scale sources convinced us as well to have found a reliable partner. The cooperation has been very good so far.”
But does the investment in the battery now pay off with the combination of two business cases? “The numbers already looked well enough the last couple of years”, Esmeralda Peleman explains. “And then the energy crisis hit and showed the real potential of our supply concept”, she adds. “The windturbines and the battery have allowed us to weather the storms on the energy markets, which is a great strategic advantage to the situation we would have found ourselves in without them”, Esmeralda Peleman states.
Today, only 5%-20% of the electricity required on-site is still coming from the grid, depending on the month, and all residual power needs are of course flexibly sourced by Eneco. The battery has increased the rate of self-consumption by another 8%-15%, making Peleman even more independent from the ubiquitous crisis mode other industrial consumers find themselves in. So, Esmeralda Peleman is already looking to build on that advantage and share it with others. “Peleman is part of a regional committee to reduce CO2 emissions from commercial and industrial consumers by 50%. This business case is a perfect example why investment in cleantech and sustainability is also an excellent idea on the financial side. We are working on expanding the solution and let others take part in it as well.”
2 windturbines on the property of Peleman Industries, operated by Eneco
Capacity of 2,3 MW each
Capacity of behind the meter Battery Energy Storage System (BESS)