Inertia booster: Welsh Power and Quinbrook start work on flywheel flex project


Welsh Power and Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners have broken ground on a new project to help keep the GB power system stable.

Awarded one of five contracts by National Grid ESO last year, Welsh Power is building a synchronous flywheel and condenser to provide inertia. It is also working with Siemens and Western Power Distribution on the project, and will deliver services to the local grid operator as well as the ESO.

When commissioned next year it will be able to provide “approximately one per cent of the inertia needed to operate the grid safely – with zero emissions,” according to Welsh Power grid services director, Chris Wickins.

The ESO has historically relied on inertia from the large spinning turbines of thermal power stations. It needs more inertia as these plants run less frequently as renewables penetration increases.

According to ESO director, Fintan Slye, inertia “has been taken for granted” and will become much more important in a renewables-dominated power system.

Statkraft and GE are also building a type of flywheel to deliver similar services.

Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners is funding the project. It appears to be taking a keen interest in the UK flex market, earlier this month acquiring UK flexibility aggregator Flexitricity for £15m via subsidiary Reserve Power Holdings.


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