Horizon 2020 hybrid flywheel battery project
©David Neale/Wikipedia

UK-Ireland project develops hybrid storage system

Europe’s largest flywheel battery system will connect to the Irish and UK grids to respond to energy demands.

The initiative received €2.9m under the Horizon 2020 scheme and will develop a flywheel battery hybrid energy storage system, aimed to stabilise pressure on the existing European grid infrastructure.

Co-ordinated by Schwungrad Energie Limited, the consortium of partners will include Adaptive Balancing Power GmbH, who will provide adaptive flywheel technology, and Freqcon GmbH, who will design and build scalable multi-source power converters to connect flywheels to the grid.

Dr Dan Gladwin, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Sheffield, UK, said: “The UK national grid is becoming increasingly volatile due to the rising share of intermittent renewable energy sources.

“Battery and flywheel technologies can offer a rapid response and can export and import energy, enabling this technology to respond to periods of both under and over frequency.”

A recent report from the National Infrastructure Commission has suggested that energy storage could contribute to innovations which could collaboratively save consumers £8bn (~€9bn) a year by 2030. The technology would secure the UK’s energy supply for future generations.

Flywheels operate by accelerating a rotor at high speeds using electrical energy, subsequently storing the energy within its system as rotational energy which can be converted back to electricity when required.

Unlike batteries, flywheels do not degrade over time. A combination of the two enables storage systems to operate more efficiently and reduce costs over the system’s lifespan.

CEO of Freqcon GmbH, Norbert Hennchen, said: “Increasing renewable penetration is a huge challenge for grid stability worldwide, and our company is at the forefront of developing innovative grid support solutions, based on our power converters.”

Following installation in Ireland, the system will be implemented at the University of Sheffield’s 2MW battery facility at Willenhall. The grid-connected research facility is one of the largest and fastest battery storage systems in the UK.