New energy: storage is key

New energy: storage is key

Near Tynemouth in England, Enel has inaugurated a new storage plant, the Group’s first facility of its kind. It’s just one of our many electricity storage projects around the world


The River Tyne, in the North of England, has its source not far from the Scottish border. In the 19th century the river was used to transport coal from the inland mines to the commercial ports. Today, near the mouth of the river, Enel has launched an innovative facility that will contribute to the spread of renewable energy and provide improvements in energy efficiency, while also representing an important step forward in the energy transition currently taking place.


Energy storage: for the quality of the service…

The new facility, located near Tynemouth, in the metropolitan borough of North Tyneside, not far from the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, is a battery energy storage system operating in stand-alone mode. In other words, it isn’t integrated into a power plant but is at the service of the electricity grid. It is project is Enel Group’s first industrial-sized plant in this category. The technology selected for the plant is that of lithium ion batteries for a total of 25 MW/12.5 MWh; the facility will be managed remotely from the control room of Enel’s Global Thermal Generation in Italy.

“Thanks to energy storage technology using stand-alone batteries, we can provide balancing services for the grid, and therefore we can contribute to increasing the stability and reliability of the network, improving the security of the energy supply and the quality of the service”

– David Post, Head of Business Development at Enel Global Thermal Generation

Our storage facility will be used to provide grid balancing services to the British network operator, the National Grid. This is thanks to a four-year contract for Enhanced Frequency Response (EFR), at the end of which the project will take part in ancillary services and capacity market tenders.


…and for the environmental sustainability

Improving the stability of the network is an even more pressing requirement during this phase which is seeing the increasing use of renewable sources like the sun and the wind. They generate electricity intermittently with moments of production in excess of energy needs, but sometimes they do not produce sufficient power. A storage system can intervene in these types of situation by storing electricity at moments of peak production and issuing it when it is most needed. To do this on an industrial scale, lithium ion batteries are one of the most efficient technologies available.

According to Enrico Viale, Head of Global Thermal Generation at Enel, “the entrance into service of the Tynemouth facility shows the great potential offered by this promising solution in tackling the challenges of the energy transition. Battery storage systems offer solutions for rapid and flexible services that ensure the stability of the electricity system and, if combined with existing plants, can optimise performance and increase their flexibility.”

A network managed in a more balanced way therefore means a higher quality service for customers but also more opportunities for clean energy operators. Battery storage, in actual fact, is related to four of the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): SDG 7 (Affordable and clean energy), SDG 9 (Industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG 11 (Sustainable cities and communities) and SDG 13 (Climate action). The storage market has been experiencing strong growth for many years and even more rapid progress is forecast for the future. That’s also why at Enel we consider storage one of our fundamental assets, and it’s a sector where we are one of the world’s leading companies.


All out energy storage

Tynemouth is just one of our battery storage projects. We currently have a total capacity of 750 MW in development worldwide, both in terms of stand-alone facilities and those connected to power plants.

 “We hope that Tynemouth represents the first of a group of projects that we aim to complete over the coming years in other countries in which we operate, such as Spain, Italy, the United States and Latin America,” explains David Post.

The next to launch will be connected to the power plant in Almería, in Spain, and, with its 20 MW/11.7 MWh, it will be the largest in the country.

In the stand-alone storage sector, we also have some projects in the development phase in the United States, with a total of 88 MW of projects already under contract and others in an advanced state of development.

“The market for utility-scale battery storage systems shows a huge development potential that Enel aims to take full advantage of by developing a portfolio of storage projects in the countries considered more promising for this sector”

– Enrico Viale, Head of Global Thermal Generation at Enel

But our Group’s emphasis on innovation is also taking us in new geographical and technological directions. In 2015, we created a 300 kW storage plant integrated with the power plant in Ventotene – a first for the industrial use of batteries associated with power plants. We are currently constructing storage systems combined with wind farms, such as the 2 MW facility in Potenza Pietragalla in Italy. In Ethiopia, we are developing a storage system combined with a photovoltaic plant to serve the hospital in Wolisso. This is a way to ensure a secure supply of electricity in a country where interruptions to the service occur frequently. Other small storage plants using lithium ion batteries can be found in our electricity microgrids, for example in Costa Rica, where a local microgrid is powered by a photovoltaic plant; a similar system is used in Ollagüe, in Chile, with the difference here being that the storage system is a hybrid facility (part lithium and part hydrogen). Another storage project in a completely different context is that of the microgrid that powers Marcus Garvey Village, a multi-family residential complex in New York.

Last but not least, Enel has also been setting up microgrids with storage facilities at the circuits of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship, the motorsport competition for single-seater electric vehicles for which Enel is the Official partner. This too is a symbol of the energy transition: while in power generation coal is giving way to renewables, in transport a gradual shift from petrol to electricity is taking place and energy storage is set to play an increasingly decisive role.