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Centrica’s 100MW Ireland proposal pits battery against natural gas

Fresh details have emerged surrounding UK-headquartered utility Centrica’s rumoured 100MW battery after a planning application was submitted to Kilkenny County Council in Ireland through a joint venture formed in part by local subsidiary Bord Gáis Energy.

In November Centrica revealed early stage plans to build the massive battery project in Ireland, through the previously state-owned power and gas company it bought in 2014. However, details remained scant as planning documents had yet to be filed.

Kilkenny County Council is now processing an application received in December 2017 for the construction of a 100MW battery energy storage system with associated balance of plant, equipment and buildings.

This was put forward by Greener Ideas, a joint venture set up in 2009 between Bord Gáis Energy and Mountside Properties originally to develop open cycle gas turbines, which is now listed as the owner of the main development site for the battery project.

The two-storey, 85 metre long building set to house the battery is being planned for a business and technology park in Purcellsinch, less than two miles from the centre of Kilkenny, which is in the south-east of Ireland.

It is being planned to coincide with the needs of Ireland’s ‘Delivering a Secure, Sustainable Electricity System’ (DS3) programme, implemented by transmission system operator EirGrid.

This is being set up to facilitate the country’s efforts to meet its binding European target for renewable energy consumption of 16% by 2020. As part of this, the Irish government plans to meet 40% of electricity demand with renewable sources by the end of the decade.

The DS3 Programme is intended to meet the challenges of operating the electricity system in a secure manner during this period by ensuring the power system can incorporate increasing amounts of renewable generation.

Greener Ideas believes the provision of battery storage will be needed in this endeavour as the proposed control system will monitor the grid frequency and react automatically to stabilise the grid.

The company expects EirGrid to go out to tender for DS3 services in 2018, and is planning the development of the project to coincide with any contract it may be awarded.

Going up against gas

However, the battery project will need to compete with the capabilities of a 100MW Open Cycle Gas Turbine (OCGT) for which Greener Ideas also has planning permission granted on the same site. The JV is also considering the development of this project in Purcellsinch as it would be similarly suited to the DS3 system services that are expected to require a relatively long duration.

However, the company wishes to secure permission for the battery as this is better suited to those services that require a quick response time to grid requirements but last a shorter duration.

The decision as to which technology will be developed at the site will be made once EirGrid has completed the auction later this year and it becomes clear what monetary value each DS3 service has achieved.

Only one technology will be developed on site depending on which project proves to be more lucrative should contracts be awarded, with the battery slated for completion in 2020 if chosen.

A statement issued to our UK sister site Clean Energy News by Bord Gáis Energy confirmed a planning application “has been submitted at a Kilkenny site” and is one of a number of options under consideration across a number of sites to facilitate the growth of renewables in the Republic of Ireland.

If built, Centrica told CEN in November that it expects the project to be the largest in Europe, eclipsing its own 49MW Roosecote battery thought to be nearing completion in the UK. Elsewhere in the UK, the company is currently conducting a 'local energy market' trial in Cornwall, south-west England, into which Centrica is looking to integrate aggregated residential solar PV and energy storage.

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