Belgium’s biggest battery park set to open in 2021

Last updated: 25th November 2020

Centrica Business Solutions set to optimise new virtual power plant to act as environmentally friendly back up to the grid in Belgium.

EStor-Lux is set to establish Belgium’s largest battery park in Bastogne in a partnership with Centrica Business Solutions, which will be responsible for the operating and enhancing the revenue received from the batteries.

The battery park will function as a virtual power plant, making efficient use of the available supply on the high-voltage grid and discharging the power when demand threatens to outstrip supply.

The 10MW/20MWh battery is under construction by EStor-Lux (a joint venture between Rent-a-Port, Idelux, Socofe and SRIW) and will be the first battery park of its kind in the Walloon region of Southern Belgium, and the biggest in Belgium. It will be operational from mid 2021.

This battery park is a response to the flexible capacity needs of Elia, the operator of the high-voltage electricity network in Belgium. Centrica will be able to make the ‘virtual power plant’ available as part of the secondary reserve, which helps balance the frequency of the grid, which is necessary to guarantee its stability. The battery acts as a buffer and allows electricity to be injected or absorbed from the grid as required.

The battery will play an essential and innovative role in the efficient management of renewable electricity supply and demand. It allows the production of renewable energy to be flexible, by storing surplus production during off-peak hours and making it available to the network during major consumption peaks.

Uniquely, the battery will form part of a larger ‘virtual power plant’, connecting virtually to large industrial businesses such as LafargeHolcim, Sappi and Foamglas. Once the battery has reached its full capacity, industrial sites can be called upon to utilise the stored energy. Conversely, when the battery needs energy, Centrica can coordinate the energy consumption of industrial players by asking them to slightly reduce their energy consumption temporarily.

Arno van Mourik, International Director at Centrica Business Solutions, said: “We are convinced that these new battery-based and CO2 emissions-free ‘virtual power plants’ will continue to be developed in Belgium. They are perfectly in line with Elia’s ambition to gradually open the various electricity markets to demand management. The optimisation of ‘virtual power plants’ allows for a valorisation on multiple flexible energy markets. It represents a unique opportunity for investors.”

Bruno Vanderschueren, Director of EStor-Lux, confirms: “This project represents a real step forward in the energy transition by demonstrating the full competitiveness of batteries as an alternative to thermal power plants. Centrica contributed greatly to the feasibility of the project. The service goes far beyond simple access to flexibility markets and includes significant performance guarantees from Centrica. Our teams enjoyed working together to develop this highly innovative project.

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