“We want to manage the expenses of our hospital as efficiently as possible, so we always try to find ways to reduce our operating costs. That’s why we put our emergency power generator on the balancing energy market. In doing so, we tapped its unused potential, since we can now use the returns from the balancing energy market to maintain the unit,” Bernhard Timmer explains.
Timmer is the technical director of a clinical center in the city of Dortmund in North Rhine Westphalia. The Regional Association of Westphalia-Lippe (LWL) operates the clinic and maintains several hospitals, museums, and schools for children with special needs. The LWL clinic is one of 10 that offer balancing energy for the German national grid by networking their dispatchable backup generators to the Next Kraftwerke Virtual Power Plant.
The 400 kW emergency power generator in Dortmund, located on the clinic’s grounds, is able to keep the most important parts of the clinic running in case of a local power outage. Although the unit is part of the balancing energy market, its principal function as an emergency generator is always guaranteed. “There are safety requirements that apply to emergency power generators in particular. Our technician and Next Kraftwerke’s technical experts ensured the unit remained compliant. The whole procedure was effortless and worked out very smoothly,” Timmer says. Full diesel tanks to power the engines ensure that the clinic is always well prepared. One thousand liters provide enough fuel to maintain the clinic’s power supply for about 35 hours in case of a power outage. Therefore, it is of no consequence if 15 minutes of balancing energy are delivered now and then to stabilize the grid frequency.
The next step will be to extend the application range of the emergency power generator. From a slower product of balancing energy (tertiary reserve), to a faster one, which enables the provision of balancing energy within 5 minutes (secondary reserve). "So far, we are already prequalified for the positive tertiary reserve. The provision of balancing energy has always worked without a hitch. This was decisive for checking whether we could also provide positive secondary reserve", Timmer outlines the plans for the near future. "We are expecting even more gains from the positive secondary reserve due to the higher prices," he explains.
Being part of Next Kraftwerke’s Virtual Power Plant has even more advantages for the clinic. “We can use the activations of ancillary services for the TSO as a way to test our system,” Timmer says. He adds: “Being part of the Virtual Power Plant provides a source of additional revenue where there are usually only additional costs.”