Energy storage systems are the new frontier for innovation and business in the field of renewable energy. The wind and sun are by nature unpredictable and not programmable: this is why we are studying the best technological solutions for our customers, so we can store the energy we produce and use it best when needed.
To harness the power of the winds, the Greek god Aeolus locked them up in an amphora. Helios, on the other hand, marked the change from light to dark by dragging the sun with his winged chariot.
Nowadays, thanks to technological innovation, it’s possible to turn what only the gods could do in the ancient world into reality: store the power of the wind, wind energy, and make energy sun, the energy of the sun available 24 hours a day.
Not with enormous amphorae or winged horses, but thanks to new energy storage solutions, a set of technologies able to store energy and make it available when it’s needed most and in order to balance supply and demand on electrical grids.
Storage solutions promise to be a true revolution in the renewable energy sector, which sees Enel Green Power as one of its global leaders.
In some of the thirty countries where we work, we’ve already successfully installed various systems able to store energy and guarantee a constant supply to local communities.
Solar and wind energy: Italy’s sun and wind
In Italy, EGP installed its first storage system in Potenza Pietragalla, Basilicata, in 2015.
The Pietragalla storage system is able to store 2MWh of energy and is integrated into Enel Green Power’s wind farm of the same name, where it helps guarantee the stability of the electrical grid.
Pietragalla is a milestone for EGP in the field of storage solutions and a key step forward for the entire technological value chain linked to wind energy and, more generally, to renewables.
Also in 2015, EGP created its first storage system (1 MW / 2 MWh) in a photovoltaic plant in Sicily, the Catania 1 solar park, with an installed capacity of 8 MW.
The installation of the storage system led to an overall renewal of the photovoltaic plant, updated with the most advanced technological solutions that increase its flexibility and allow for a complete integration with the storage system.
The energy storage system in Chile
The experience and know-how we’ve gained over the years have allowed us to create an innovative micro-grid with very high technological content at Cerro Pabellón, in the Chilean part of the Atacama Desert.
The developed system integrates a 125-kWp photovoltaic plant with a Hybrid Energy Storage System (HyESS), based on lithium ion batteries (132 kWh) and hydrogen storage (1 MWh). Designed in this way, the system is able to provide clean energy, 24 hours a day, to the base camp that hosts EGP technicians working at the nearby geothermal plant.
Despite the area’s extreme altitude and temperatures, the Cerro Pabellón storage project eliminated the need for diesel generators, helping to minimise the impact of our operations in the area.
The level of technology and automation we used in the Atacama Desert is now a model for storage systems and the management of renewables generation that can be exported to the other countries where we work, especially to meet the energy needs of islands and remote areas.
A Record-Breaking hybrid system that combines solar and wind energy
Also in Chile, this time in the Andean community of Ollagüe, we installed the first commercial “plug-and-play” micro-grid.
The small village of Ollagüe is located at 3,700 metres above sea level in the region of Antofagasta, not far from the border with Bolivia, in a very isolated area of the country not covered by the national electric grid.
Here, we installed an innovative hybrid electrical generation plant that integrates energy from photovoltaic panels (205 kWp), a wind turbine (nominal power 30 kW), storage batteries (250 kW / 750 kWh BESS) and a diesel generator.
It’s an isolated Micro-Grid able to provide 24 hours of continuous supply of energy and guarantee important energy and economic savings when compared to the use of a diesel generator alone.
The storage system has been a decisive step forward for the Ollagüe community, which now benefits from electrical energy even after sunset and is a model for other villages in the Andean cordillera.
EGP energy storage in the world
Alongside its constant improvements in technology, EGP’s ability to install and commission new plants is also growing.
In Germany, for example, the first 2-MW/2-MWh section of the Cremzow plant, in the state of Brandenburg, is already in operation. The lithium ion battery-based plant, which will reach its full size of 22 MW / 34 MWh by the end of 2018, will store the energy produced by the nearby wind fields and provide regulation services for the German grid.
The storage system at Cremzow is our first in Germany and comes out of a 17-million-euro agreement signed in February 2018 with the German company ENERTRAG AG and the Swiss company Leclanché SA, specialised in the design and supply of storage systems.
Storage technologies have found a home in Ethiopia as well, where they feature in one of our many projects dedicated to sustainable development.
Specifically, in collaboration with NGO “Doctors with Africa CUAMM”, we are building an innovative hybrid plant with photovoltaic and batteries – 160 kW, 200/320 kWh – able to guarantee a constant supply of energy to the St. Luke di Wolisso Hospital, unfortunately subject to constant and dangerous blackouts that can compromise the health of patients in critical states or undergoing surgical procedures at the time of the outage.
The plant, in addition to guaranteeing continuous service to the hospital, will allow for economic savings that can be reinvested in healthcare services for the community.
The Future of energy storage
However, the history of storage is still to be written. In the future, it is expected that a decrease in battery costs and the arrival of new technologies on the market can increase the speed of its spread.
Once integrated with renewable sources, then, the storage systems are able to guarantee greater flexibility and a production profile focused on the specific needs of customers and the grid. Although we are in the early stages, it’s now clear that the combination of renewable and storage systems is an enabling factor for the increasing spread of green power plants.
The presence of storage systems increases the value of a renewable plant as it allows it to provide a wide range of energy services compared to energy production alone.
Specifically, these so-called ancillary services, like static reserve, frequency and voltage adjustment, and grid rebooting, are necessary to guarantee the security of an electrical system and have up to now been the exclusive terrain of traditional thermal sources.
The time of amphorae and winged chariots is long gone: nowadays, EGP, thanks in part to the important industrial and commercial synergies that the Group offers, is able to create systems that can harness the wind and the sun, ensuring an increased use of green and sustainable sources.