Bringing Balance to the Grid

Published on Wednesday, 4 June 2014

The Enel Group is testing electricity storage systems in Spain and Italy that respond to one of the most important challenges facing distribution networks globally. With the increase in the number of wind power and PV solar plants, the amount of unpredictable energy being produced has increased, meaning that when the electricity generated from non-programmable renewable energy sources exceeds the demand coming from prosumers, imbalances appear on the distribution system. This issue is usually resolved by injecting surplus energy onto the grid, so that it can be used even hundreds of kilometres away from the generation site.

Systems such as the feed-in premium established by the European Union or the net metering mechanism have redressed the economic imbalance through incentives and compensation. Structural problems persist however, hence the call for the development of smart grids, which eliminate imbalances between generation and instant demand while ensuring operational power grid safety and avoiding the growth of operating costs.

The storage systems currently being tested by Enel balance the grid and enable the full integration of renewable energy. Two years ago the Group launched both the Store project on the Canary islands and electricity storage system development as part of the Smart City Malaga project. In Italy meanwhile, energy storage is also being tested in the Forlì-Cesena area, in the province of Isernia and since May in the province of Catanzaro.

Enel Distribuzione's storage system installed in Chiaravalle near Catanzaro is four hundred square metres of pure innovation that can store up to two megawatt-hours of electricity before converting it from direct to alternating current. The Electrical Energy Storage System was realised by NEC and is the nerve-centre of the FESR 2007-2013 inter-regional operational programme, which will allow Enel to test cutting-edge solutions for increasing the sustainability of feed-in from renewable and small and micro co-generation plants and encouraging local consumption of generated electricity.