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Hybrid technology trial aims for smooth integration of renewable energy

Professional Engineering

Stock image. The hybrid system could aid the smooth transition to renewable power by compensating for variable sources such as wind and solar (Credit: Shutterstock)
Stock image. The hybrid system could aid the smooth transition to renewable power by compensating for variable sources such as wind and solar (Credit: Shutterstock)

A new hybrid system will inject or absorb energy from the transmission network to maintain voltage levels as renewable power levels fluctuate.

The technology, being tested in a new year-long trial at Hitachi ABB Power Grids, could aid the smooth transition from conventional energy generation to renewable power by compensating for variable sources such as wind and solar. SP Energy Networks, the University of Strathclyde and the Technical University of Denmark are also involved in the trial.

The system combines a static compensator (statcom) with a synchronous condenser. The result can deliver a combination of fast reaction, spinning capacity and short circuit control, injecting or absorbing energy to keep voltage levels within the required limits. It will provide a spinning reserve over a few seconds until other resources, such as batteries or reserve generators, can be brought online.  

Electricity regulator Ofgem funded the Phoenix project, which started in 2018. The outcome of the project, including the new trial, is expected to contribute cumulative savings of over 62,000 tonnes of carbon emissions, equivalent to the electricity use of over 6,000 homes. 

Hitachi ABB Power Grids installed the hybrid solution, a strategic 275 kilovolt (kV) substation on SP Energy Networks’ transmission network near Glasgow. The project partners will evaluate the installation’s performance over the year-long trial.  

“While power stations produce a steady and constant flow of energy, renewable energy generators like wind and solar can fluctuate as they respond to different weather conditions,” said Niklas Persson, managing director of Hitachi ABB Power Grids’ grid integration.

“This pioneering hybrid solution combines existing technology with an innovative control system that will enable a reliable and stable energy supply, while accelerating the UK towards a carbon neutral future.” 

Colin Taylor, director of processes and technology at SP Energy Networks, said: “I’m very proud that we have been able to drive forward with the Phoenix project this year, despite the recent pandemic and its challenges.

“This world-first innovative project has just reached a key milestone following the commencement of its live trial. Technology like this allows us to accommodate even more renewable generation on our electricity system while maintaining levels of system stability and resilience.”  


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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. 

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