Synchronous Compensator with Flywheel Development Pipeline


The Challenge

The EirGrid program known as DS3 Delivering a Secure Sustainable Electricity System is designed to ensure the secure and safe operation of the power system in Ireland and Northern Ireland with increasing levels of variable renewable generation. However, operating conventional fossil-fuel plant out of merit by application of constraints is essential in order to provide system services to maintain the stability of the grid and to manage issues such as voltage control and inertia. This has the effect of limiting production from renewables on a daily basis, is not environmentally or commercially sustainable and opposes the philosophy of DS3. Constraint costs of operating conventional plant for system services will increase significantly over coming years and therefore examining alternative technologies as a way to deliver system services is essential if we are to achieve the DS3 targets and high penetration of renewable energy on the electricity system.

The Solution

An appropriately designed synchronous compensator can provide large scale short circuit, MVArs and inertia to the transmission system. ESB has established a project team and is working with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) pursuing the design of synchronous compensators and is planning to install a pilot synchronous compensator at ESB’s Moneypoint Generation Station offsetting carbon intensive running of large units supporting the 400kV system. The Moneypoint synchronous compensator pilot project will incorporate the largest flywheel installed worldwide and a flagship project for ESB, OEMs and EirGrid. In addition to identifying new sites in strategic locations we are also developing the most cost-effective approach to rolling out the technology across ESB infrastructure in key locations will transform the power system for future generations ensuring ongoing resilience, effective operation and allowing the Irish grid to exceed its current renewables penetration limit.

The Benefits

Synchronous Compensators enable the system operator to manage the transmission system safely and securely with a reduced dispatch of fossil fuel plant under constraints. This enables reduced carbon impact of transmission operations and reduced constraint costs. Synchronous compensators lead to a diversified revenue for the business while providing an important cash flow contribution. The technology will be developed hand in hand with our ever-expanding renewable fleet supporting their introduction even in remote locations. As plant matures and renewable penetration increases existing large units are finding it increasingly challenging to remain operational- environmentally, technically and economically and Synchronous Compensators insulates the grid from shutdown of conventional plant arising from the increased penetration of renewables.

The Future

ESB's Brighter Future Strategy aims to develop energy services to meet emerging market needs, the roll out of synchronous compensators in strategic locations achieves this while ensuring the production, connection and delivery of clean, secure and affordable energy to customers. The technology also complements and supports ESBs expanding renewable fleet. The successful rollout of synchronous compensators in Ireland alone is expected to lead to an investment of circa €150M of robust assets that stabilize and future proof the Irish transmission system