In green energy transition batteries are needed more than ever
- Teksti: Kristiina Siilin
How to maintain the balance between the energy needs in our everyday life and the energy production that is being shaken by variable renewable energy sources and electrification? The energy network must sustain equal amount of energy as is currently needed for living and running businesses. On the other hand, energy being produced to the network must be consumed in total or otherwise the balance is being violated.
The transition from centralized energy production to distributed energy system involves all of us and requires new technologies and services as well as new models to run and optimize the system. In the midst of all this, the crucial question then is: how do we store all the electricity we need?
In the energy transition the hundred years old energy network will shift from only distributing energy to Finnish people to becoming a platform welcoming also partners and customers to be part of it. The future energy platform digitally connects various energy solutions and integrates them into an optimized and distributed energy system where energy storage plays a key role.
Energy storage helps to balance and optimize
We are all quite familiar with lithium-ion batteries as they power our phones and electric cars. Nevertheless, they are not very well suited for long term energy storage. Instead, from power system’s point of view, they can offer a helping hand for short term and instant power support in imbalance situations between consumption and production, or errors in electricity production and consumption forecasts. This means that lithium-ion batteries can function as one tool to add flexibility to our electricity needs and help to increase wind power production.
Longer term flexibility can be achieved with other technologies such as with flow batteries, hydrogen buffer storage or even electricity stored as heat for long durations. This strengthens the landscape of our future energy system - it is sustainable, but its efficient use requires lot of flexibility, optimization and various technologies for storage.
Lithium-ion batteries power boost the renewable electricity
Lithium-ion batteries are the commercially available technology that are currently used to support more wind power in the Nordic power system. While we at Helen also look into future technologies and develop the system level flexible energy management that allows our customers easily to adapt in the energy transition with their own energy production like installing own solar panels at their homes, we are also doing our share of increasing power system’s flexibility by investing in lithium-ion batteries in the vicinity of electricity generation in the shorter horizon.
Helen concern’s hydro power plant at Mankala fast forwarding to the future
One concrete project is to integrate a battery to Mankala hydro power plant which will then enable the hydro turbines more efficiently to support the power grid’s flexibility needs by providing frequency regulation. The battery is slowing down the control demands for the hydro turbine and hence decreases its wear and tear and lowers the maintenance costs for the hydro power plant.
For the power grid the hydro power is one traditional tool to balance the system in high volumes. Not only the increase in wind power production that requires more flexibility, but also the changes in technical requirements for hydro power to provide that flexibility, forces the old electricity generation to adapt in the green transition. This project is one concrete example how Helen is building the future energy system to become carbon neutral by 2030.
I am proud to be driving this change and proud to learn with the best creating something new together - Merus Power providing the reliable and fast responding battery technology and Veo equipping the hydro power plant’s old automation system with new and innovative hybrid control.