Primary balancing power stabilises grid frequency

8th March 2016
Nat Bowers

For more than 100 years, the Dörverden hydro power plant has been a reliable supplier of sustainable electricity. Now, the plant has been upgraded with a large Li-ion battery system from ads-tec. This highly dynamic system provides important network services for the local connection and, with a capacity of 3MW, regulates fluctuations in the grid's 50Hz rated frequency.

If generation capacity and consumption of power fail to coincide, there may be fluctuations in grid frequency. As network load decreases, the grid frequency goes up. Conversely, if users demand more power, grid frequency goes down. The same is true for power generation. The entire power grid exists on the premise that grid frequency averages around 50.0Hz. Even minute changes have to be counteracted immediately to keep the grid frequency stable. This is imperative to power users, since it has a direct impact on their correct operation. In order to keep grid frequency at 50Hz, power providers use a proven method called primary balancing power.

To date, conventional power plants have provided primary balancing power for themselves. However, modern battery storage systems are more flexible and more dynamic. Without using fossil fuels, battery storage systems can operate at a stable 50Hz and generate or accumulate power from the batteries, depending on which way the grid frequency deviates.

Norwegian energy group Statkraft was one of the first companies to invest in this modern primary balancing power technology. Moreover, the project in Dörverden is not a subsidised project as is the case with many other, similar approaches. Instead, it’s an independent commitment made by Statkraft. In close cooperation, the safe and powerful battery system was integrated into the automated management systems and approved by the network operator. Three container-housed systems provide a total capacity of more than 3MW.

Since February 2016, this technology has been providing CO2-neutral and important system services in the power grid. This serves as a demonstration of this technology in Germany and shows what is already being done in other countries quite frequently. Modern, high-capacity batteries, as those supplied by ads-tec (including their control systems), are an important part of the change brought about by the energy revolution. Aside from reducing CO2, the batteries remain in operation even when conventional power plants have become obsolete and been deactivated.

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