18 December 2012 – eStorage, a consortium of major European stakeholders from the entire electric power value chain, has been awarded a US$17.5 million grant by the European Commission to develop a solution for cost-effective integration of intermittent renewable energy generation, such as wind, into the electrical grid.
In addition to Alstom, the consortium leader, eStorage includes Elia, a transmission system operator; EDF, a generation company; Imperial College, an academic Institution; DNV KEMA, an energy consulting and testing & certification company and Algoé, a management consultancy.
The mission of eStorage is to develop cost-effective solutions for the widespread deployment of flexible, reliable, GWh-scale energy storage across the European Union (EU) and to enhance grid management systems to allow the integration of a large share of renewable energies. The cornerstone of the eStorage project will be upgrading EDF’s Le Cheylas fixed speed pumped storage hydroelectric plant (PSP) to a variable speed PSP. Once completed, Le Cheylas will provide 70 MW of additional night time regulation capability which will allow the integration of several hundred MW of intermittent renewable generation. This will demonstrate that a significant portion of European PSP capacity can be upgraded to variable speed, providing up to 10 GW of additional regulation capability with no environmental impact and at a much lower cost than developing new plants.
The consortium will also develop and demonstrate solutions for coupling the dispatch of storage plants with renewable generation using advanced energy and market management systems. This will enable PSPs to maximise their value in the balancing markets. PSPs are the most flexible and widespread means for mass storage of electricity. By transferring water between two reservoirs at different elevations, they deliver electricity at the time of high demand or low generation (for example on a calm day when there is little electricity produced from wind generation), and they store electricity from excess generation of wind and solar plants during periods of low demand.
Even more important, PSPs play an essential role in power regulation which is the capability for generating units to rapidly adapt their output to keep generation and consumption balanced at all times. Electrical production and consumption need to be balanced to ensure the stability and continuous operation of electrical networks. However, fixed-speed PSP plants can only provide power regulation in generation mode while variable speed units can regulate power in generation and pump mode, e.g. 24 hours per day. Virtually all existing PSPs in Europe are fixed speed units.
From simulation studies, demonstration results and storage potential analysis, the eStorage consortium will evaluate the system-level benefits of storage and identify development barriers in order to draw recommendations for an efficient market and regulatory framework to maximise the impact of projects. The project will also demonstrate a balancing market platform, validating critical IT systems which manage new types of flexible products such as PSP.