Despite the UK’s Brexit decision, the European Union is helping to fund the UK’s first battery flywheel system.
The EU is contributing €2.9 ($3.2) million towards the €4 (£4.5) million project from its Horizon 2020 programme, which aims to take “great ideas from the lab to the market”.
German and Irish companies are working on the project, which will see a flywheel system added to the University of Sheffield’s 2MW battery facility near Wolverhampton, in the Midlands. The upgraded hybrid energy storage system will be connected to both the Irish and UK grids.
Engineers from the University of Sheffield, England, are working with flywheel specialists Schwungrad Energie and Adaptive Balancing Power, and product supplier Freqcon to integrate the flywheel with the existing 2MW lithium-titanate battery supplied by Toshiba.
Dr Dan Gladwin, from the university’s Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said: “The UK national grid is becoming increasingly volatile due to the rising share of intermittent renewable energy sources. This manifests itself in deviations from the nominal 50Hz frequency as demand outweighs supply or vice versa.
“Battery and flywheel technologies can offer a rapid response, and can export and import energy enabling this technology to respond to periods of both under and over frequency.”
In the first stage of the project, the flywheel facility will be installed in Ireland, piloted by Dublin-based Schwungrad Energie Limited at their hybrid flywheel battery facility, which recently concluded a trial with EirGrid that successfully demonstrated the technology’s capability to rapidly inject power following a frequency event.
The flywheel system will be capable of a peak power of 500kW and able to store 10kWh of energy.
The system will then be installed at the university’s Willenhall facility, where the flywheels will be upgraded to provide 1MW of peak power and 20kWh of energy storage
Jake Bracken, from Schwungrad Energie, said: “The adaptive flywheel and multi-source inverter being demonstrated by this project have the potential to increase the competitiveness of the solution.”
Dr Hendrik Schaede from Adaptive Balancing Power explained Europe’s interest in the UK market: “Irish and English grid operators currently hold a pioneering role by developing up-to-date regulations for grid stabilisation measures, which means we can test grid stabilisation technology in the project.
“Our adaptive flywheel technology allows us to tailor the flywheels’ properties to the requirements set up by regulations and local conditions, leading to a high efficiency while providing the grid services at lowest costs.”