United Kingdom

United Kingdom

AES plans 100MW Northern Ireland wind energy storage

UK: American energy firm AES is planning to build a 100MW energy storage plant in Northern Ireland in order to store excess wind-generated energy and release it when demand is high.

The facility would be built at AES's Kilroot power plant
The facility would be built at AES's Kilroot power plant

The battery-based system would be built at the company's Kilroot conventional power station near Belfast.

Energy from Northern Ireland's wind projects will be fed into the facility during times of high generation and released when demand peaks.

The company has applied to Northern Ireland's grid operator SONI for permission to link up the facility to the grid. If the go ahead is given, the project is expected to be operational in the second quarter of 2015.

AES currently has 200MW of storage in operation in the US.

Storage is seen as key to the development of the wind industry in Europe, where capacity is already high and the greatest challenge is integrating the energy generated into the grid.

Due to the fact that the wind does not always blow, and demand is variable, as installed wind capacity is increased storage capacity will also need to increase if the need for conventional power backup is to be reduced.

A number of companies are working on storage systems ranging from pumped hydro and advanced batteries to the conversion of energy into hydrogen.

The US Department of Energy has an annual budget of $20 million for storage research and analysts Pike Research have suggested a worldwide storage market of $20-25 billion a year by 2020.

A study carried out by Alstom surveyed utilities and grid operators and found that more than 60% of respondents ranked the need for energy storage for wind integration as high.

In 2012 there was around 157GW of energy storage installed globally.

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