Faster, Smarter, Lower Cost Energy Infrastructure
The manner of delivering Energy infrastructure, in particular the electricity system, is currently being challenged in Ireland due to the speed of build of new Industries and the demand to connect new forms of power generation to the system. This scenario is being repeated in many EU countries however Ireland is one of the few systems that has the challenge of being an island system with a growing level of renewable penetration and a significant high load growth in its capital city where it is becoming imperative to consider faster, smarter and economical energy solutions to meet the new energy future
Under the Renewable Energy Directive (2009/28/EC), Irish overall renewables target is set at 16% of total final consumption to come from renewable energy in 2020. This target will be made up of contributions from renewable energy in electricity (RES-E), renewable energy in transport (RES-T) and renewable energy for heat and cooling (RES-H) with the RES-E contribution to gross electricity consumption at 40% by 2020. To incentivise investment in this area, a RE Feed-In-Tarriff (REFIT) has been in place which has resulted in the connection of a near 3,000MW of wind to the system and a queue of +5,000MW in a gated process. The existing REFIT expires in 2017 which places considerable pressure on Grid to facilitate a speedier connection to meet the incentive cutoff. An additional issue arises in that much of this new generation creates new problems for Grid operators where new approaches are now to be considered. This situation Is not particular to Ireland but it is now becoming more pronounced in Ireland than most locations globally
Growth in demand on the Grid has mostly come from around the Dublin area. Much of this is focused around the M50 area and is related to Datacentre growth. Datacentres tend to have a very quick expansion cycle compared to Pharma or Manufacturing, and indeed the rapid explosion in the need for increased data storage has planning for such organizations extremely challenging beyond 2-3 years. This in turn challenges Grid and the supply chain to respond to plan and deliver Grid capacity and access much quicker than the previous norm.
To address the need for speed of connecting, the need for certainty on exporting energy to the grid and the need for grid solutions to support the intermittent power generation mix the energy system must transition to embrace flexibility in Grid and Generation. This is a blend of standardization, modularization, and flexibility for a smarter energy system and Siemens has developed solutions that can assist in this transition.
Excellent examples of work to date is the use of our Gas insulated Switchgear for high voltage substations developed into a precast substation solution. HV substations are traditionally built as open switching yards with bricks and mortar buildings, however using the GIS approach reduces the footprint by a factor of 4 or more and facilitates building and pre-commissioning the complete station in sections off site and connecting these sections very rapidly onsite.
Smart Grid solutions are now very well understood and developed and are now being actively deployed by Grid operators worldwide. Much of these solutions address the instability issues created on the grid from Renewable deployment and can include Storage, Network operation in closed loop, Dynamic Network management, Demand response, etc all involving the deeper integration of Data, Communications, Consumer and Generator
Floating Conventional Power stations can be used to provide a backup inertia to a system that is transitioning. This can come in the form of PGaaS (PowerGeneration as a Service) where the floating barge can be connected to a strategic point to the grid, used for a number of years and once it has served its purpose, disconnected and sailed to its next location or home base for refurbishment. Siemens are currently building the first barge units for global customers and expecting to deploy the same in 2016/ 2017.
The Energy System is changing quickly because of a changing build rate of Industry, the demand of change in the generation mix and the convergence of ICT with energy. Ireland is one of the first European systems to be challenged to innovate and has the opportunity to lean on the expertise of the market and deliver on its promise of a greener and very resilient energy system.