Ancillary services with the largest battery storage unit in Switzerland

Alpiq Holding AG, Lausanne, Switzerland, manages the largest and most powerful battery in Switzerland on behalf of MW Storage AG, Zug, Switzerland. The 20 MW battery prequalified for the provision of secondary control power on 24 September 2020 and has been helping to stabilize the electricity grid since 5 October.

“There’s no rest for anyone installing a battery like this”, jokes Corrado Di Stefano, Originator at Alpiq. Prequalification of the 20 MW battery in Brunnen (SZ) gave him, along with Bruno Meuriot, Asset Optimiser and Alexandra Zigkiri, Project Manager, a few sleepless nights. The manufacturers team is partly based in the USA so they were working irregular hours from the beginning of August to the middle of September to perform the tests. On 24 September Swissgrid finally granted prequalification for the provision of secondary control power. According to Bruno Meuriot, the procedure was faster than for other batteries, because Alpiq now has plenty of experience with battery projects. “Our big advantage is that we have a battery concept for ancillary services that we can more or less pull out of the bag. It’s a concept that Swissgrid has already accepted before”, says Alexandra Zigkiri.

Knowledge together with software stabilises the electricity grid

Because there has not been a battery project of this magnitude in Switzerland before, close cooperation between the manufacturer, the asset owner, MW Storage AG and the grid operator Swissgrid was especially important. Within the group, operations also had to run smoothly between Trading and Origination on the one hand and Software Development on the other. After all, the greatest challenge when commissioning is the interaction of the battery with the software; how it processes the communication signals and whether it responds correctly and quickly enough to the commands. “Our software for managing decentralised pools has since proved itself”, says Alexandra Zigkiri, and adds: “Since 2019 we have been relying on this scalable solution, which makes it easier for us to incorporate new customers.”

The status of the battery and schedules are automatically transmitted to the Trading department using artificial intelligence, in order to procure or sell energy. “In spite of this, it is evident that the installation of a 20 MW battery has not yet been standardized”, says Corrado Di Stefano, and alludes to the fact that conditions always vary depending on the type, manufacturer and size. Alpiq has already implemented similar projects and built up appropriate expertise, but “a 20 MW battery is a different kettle of fish”, says Corrado Di Stefano.

A large pool for reliable control power

Having been granted prequalification, the battery in Brunnen (SZ) not only allows us to provide secondary control power, but also primary control power, thanks to its inclusion in Alpiq’s sustainable flexibility portfolio, which consists mainly of hydropower. In addition to our own storage power plant, this portfolio is being supplemented with smaller and larger third-party systems. We want to make the storage unit as profitable as possible for MW Storage AG. “Because we still see this as our main task as a service provider and consultant in the field of ancillary services”, says Bruno Meuriot. And we’ll go without sleep, if necessary.

Technical details of the battery

Power: 20 MW

Capacity: 18 MWh

Battery type: Lithium-ion

Use: Ancillary services (SRL and PRL)

Previous articleBlackstone Resources comments on Tesla’s battery strategy
Next articleChina must commit to battery recycling in electric vehicle boom: Greenpeace