Fossil power specialists make storage and flex part of the package

GE plans to supply storage technologies alongside gas in future, according to the company’s vice president for Europe, Michael Rechsteiner. He expects to see the roles being filled by fossil plants changing and in future, when selling or upgrading gas plant, “We want to give [customers] the option of pairing with a battery”. He described batteries as “spinning reserve that is not burning fuel”.

Rechsteiner said the company would not use its own battery technology but was testing different types. He hoped to supply them alongside gas generation at any scale from tens to hundreds of megawatts. It would mean that gas operators could offer both fast reserve and long term capacity to the market, using batteries for instant reserve for long enough to allow the gas plant to be brought online or vary power levels. That could be accomplished using GE’s control systems and software, which could be integrated with generators’ trading platforms, he said. The company wants to offer upgrades to existing plant – it recently signed a deal for such an upgrade at the South Humber plant – and Rechsteiner said that although the company had disposed of its in-house finance arm, it could provide services to companies seeking investment.

Talking about the future for gas plant, Rechsteiner said, “the installed base has a very important role for decades to come.” It would take 50 years before renewables had reached the point where fossil was not needed in the market at all.

Meanwhile Morteza Seraj, director of process automation at Mitsubishi Electric, says mid-size plants have a lot more flexibility to offer the market. Among his targets are energy from waste plants, which he says can offer ancillary services – if the economics are right. He acknowledges that at the moment, “the energy from waste industry is lucrative in its own right in the UK” because gate fees (for avoiding landfill taxes) and power sales provide good incentives. Ancillary services are regarded as “peanuts” in comparison. But he says “some companies are technically savvy and want to go for it” and those would be in a good position when waste management incentives start to fall.

Seraj said that using mid range and small plant for flexibility could be made much easier if there was more consistency between the control systems used. He called for an international standard that would allow control systems to talk to each other.

Rechsteiner and Seraj spoke to New Power at the PowerGen Europe conference. Subscribers, login to read the full article: Supply chain offerings: flexibility support and batteries as standard

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