Wärtsilä Energy, a global energy storage and management company, has installed 72 GW of power plant capacity in 180 countries around the world. Now it is bringing its expertise to Texas to help stabilize that state’s utility grid with two 100 MW battery storage facilities with a combined capacity of 214.5 MWh. The Madero and Ignacio projects will participate in the ERCOT wholesale electricity market, delivering key ancillary services required for grid stability, including frequency regulation. They are expected to go into service in January, 2022.

In a press release, Risto Paldanius, vice president of Wärtsilä Energy Americas, said, “Energy storage is rapidly becoming a key asset for the global energy markets and Wärtsilä has a leading position in this field. In the planning of these installations, we were able to provide solid expertise based on our depth of experience in energy storage, and this added considerable value to our energy optimization capabilities.”

Wartsila energy storage facility. Credit: Wartsila

In an email, the company told CleanTechnica the primary purpose of the two new systems is to help maintain a stabilized grid as more renewable energy from wind and solar installations is added to the utility grid. They will also be a source for emergency power in a crisis situation such as happened when Texas experienced unexpectedly low temperatures in February.

It takes a certain amount of energy to keep the grid operating. In February, there were times when the grid failed because there wasn’t enough power for even this basic function. The 200 MW storage system could have filled this smaller operational gap and kept the state powered up during the crisis. The system will provide much needed energy storage to cope with such emergencies in the future.

Grid-scale storage is about more than just batteries. Sophisticated digital control mechanisms are required to respond in milliseconds to changes in frequency or demand. The Madero and Ignacio installations will rely on Wärtsilä’s GridSolv Quantum — a fully integrated modular and compact energy storage system designed for ease of deployment and sustainable energy optimization across project locations and market applications. It has been optimized for flexibility and functionality with several sub-systems, and meets all North America and international standards.

Both systems will also take advantage of Wärtsilä’s sophisticated GEMS energy management system. It monitors, controls, and optimizes energy assets at both the site and portfolio levels to achieve optimal system performance. Using machine learning and both historic and real-time data analytics, it optimizes the asset mix, making it possible for customers to remotely monitor, operate, identify, and diagnose equipment with unrivaled safety, reliability, and flexibility. It is also one of the top-rated systems for cybersecurity, providing a barrier to malicious digital attacks on the utility grid.

These types of systems are just what ERCOT needs to address the weakness in its system revealed by the recent winter weather. Two 100 MW storage systems won’t do the job all by themselves, but they will provide real-world experience to grid managers and energy suppliers to help persuade them to add more storage to the grid as it evolves for reliable use in the future.



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