Irish company Lumcloon Energy is to invest €150m in two battery storage technology centres in the Midlands that will boost use of renewable energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuel-fired power plants.

The firm has partnered with Korean firms Hanwha Energy Corporation and LSIS to develop two 100MW sustainable energy projects at Lumcloon and Shannonbridge, in Co Offaly, it will announce today.

Some 240 jobs will be created during the construction phase, and up to 10 in each of the two facilities when up and running. Work is expected to begin later this year.

The development will introduce Battery Energy Storage Solutions (BESS) to Ireland for the first time on a commercial basis, Lumcloon said.

Aimed at supporting EU 2020 renewable targets by enabling greater levels of wind and solar to be accommodated on the grid, the technology is deployed across the UK, US, Australia and Europe.

BESS involves the storage of power from the grid which is then resupplied on demand. It will allow renewable energy generated at night to be stored, which would otherwise have to be curtailed due to a lack of demand.

The power can then be released back into the grid, avoiding the use of conventional oil or gas-fired power stations to generate electricity.

Each plant will be around 5,000sqm, and rise to some eight metres in height, Lumcloon Energy chief executive Nigel Reams said.

“This project will provide essential back-up for Ireland’s rapidly expanding renewable energy sector and benefit consumers and business alike,” he told the Irish Independent.

“It’s an insurance policy for the grid, which is moving to a high volume of renewables and switching off conventional plants, so they need a back-up.

“By putting our plant on the system it allows conventional plants to be turned off.”

National grid operator EirGrid recently announced that Ireland’s power system was the first in the world capable of delivering 65pc of all electricity from variable sources, including wind. Grid operators face technical challenges in managing high levels of renewable power due to the possible impact on the system’s stability.

With incentives to develop solar pv expected to be announced later this year, use of renewables is expected to further ramp-up over the coming years, meaning more battery storage will be needed. Some experts suggest up to 375MW will be needed over time. The 200MW proposed by Lumcloon could provide power for the equivalent of 170,000 homes.

Hanwha Energy Corporation has deployed the technology on a commercial scale, and executive director Shin Ji-ho said the partnership would result in a “remarkable” project.

“Hanwha would expect to support the energy policy in Ireland by taking the opportunity to develop and install BESS, enhancing the stability and reliability of power system in Ireland,” he said. “With long-time experience in the energy business across the globe, Hanwha would like to accomplish remarkable energy projects in Ireland.”

EirGrid expects to seek tenders for “high-availability units” later this year, where power must be provided to the grid within 150 milliseconds of the demand being made. Lumcloon is confident it can secure this contract, which will allow the development to go ahead.

The plants have full planning permission and will be built at Cloniffeen at Shannonbridge close to the West Offaly Power Station, with the second at the site of the former ESB power plant at Lumcloon near Cloghan. It will take 12 months to construct each facility, followed by commissioning.

Lumcloon has around 15 staff, and expects to expand as other opportunities to deploy the technology in other countries arise.

Irish Independent