Construction starts on largest battery storage project in Belgium

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Construction has started on what will be the largest battery storage project in Belgium at 25MW/100MWh when completed later this year.

Nala Renewables’ lithium-ion battery energy storage system (BESS) will come online at metals conglomerate Nyrstar’s zinc smelting operation in Balen, in Belgium’s Flemish region, by the end of 2022.

Nala Renewables is a joint venture (JV) between commodity trader Trafigura and IFM Investors and is investing €30 million (US$33 million) in the Balen project. The local Flemish government is also providing €1m of Strategic Ecology Support funding.

“The international energy crisis and Russia’s invasion of neighbouring Ukraine make it clearer than ever that we need to invest heavily in clean energy production close to home in order to reduce our dependence on foreign countries. Unfortunately, renewable energy is not available every minute of the day, so it is crucial to provide for its storage,” said Zuhal Demir, Flemish Flemish Minister of Energy and Environment who attended the project’s construction launch ceremony.

The Balen site will provide grid-balancing and stability-enhancing services to Belgium’s grid in addition to shifting renewable energy production to peak demand periods. It recently scored a win in Belgium’s capacity auction held by grid operator ELIA, one of four BESS projects to do so.

It is the joint-largest battery storage project in Belgium under development along with with one in Ruien being developed by a Japanese-Belgian JV, which also won in ELIA’s auction.

Nala Renewables aims to have 4GW of of renewable energy projects “operating, in construction, or in late-stage development by 2025,” it says. It has doubled its target from one year ago.

Nyrstar is a portfolio company of Trafigura and the companies have said Nala will build and operate projects adjacent to Trafigura’s mining, port and smelting infrastructure projects.

Battery storage projects in Belgium have taken off quicker than in the rest of mainland Europe thanks to more storage-friendly market rules. The market has some strong drivers for storage including a lack of grid flexibility and good interconnection with other markets.

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