WEMAG Battery Park Successfully Black Starts Grid

The WEMAG battery pack in Schwerin has proved its black start capability. Photo: WEMAG/Stephan Rudolph-Kramer

August 24, 2017 | News Brief | In a first-of-its-kind trial, Europe’s first commercial battery power plant, in combination with a combined-cycle gas turbine, has successfully restored a previously disconnected power grid in the North German city of Schwerin. In the experiment, the reconstruction of the disconnected power grid in the state capital of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was successfully tested with the aid of a battery system paired with a gas and steam turbine (CCGT) plant.

For the test, a microgrid was first established between the CCGT, three substations and the WEMAG battery power station, which was developed by the Berlin-based storage company Younicos. After the power island was set up, the disconnected CCGT plant was successfully put into operation again by the battery storage system. During the multi-hour test, local electricity customers were not connected to this islanded power grid; their supply was ensured via other lines.

“The WEMAG battery plant proved that it can restore the power grid after major disruption or blackout. To date, purely conventional power plant technology has been used for this purpose,” said WEMAG board member Caspar Baumgart.

“This test is proof of the impressive grid-forming capabilities of battery power plants,” Younicos CEO Stephen L. Prince added. “It shows how smoothly our intelligent software can re-establish power in case of blackouts, as well as securely operate grids with high shares of renewables.”

In the event of a major disturbance on the grid or a complete breakdown of the transmission network, energy generators and grid operators must coordinate restoration of the electricity supply in the networks they operate. A multi-day blackout in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern would result in substantial damage to the entire infrastructure and would compromise the basic needs of the population.

“System and supply security is a top priority for the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. The total blackout of the electricity network is thus very unlikely, but we want to be prepared for the worst case, which is why we are grateful that the battery park opens a new opportunity for restoring the power supply in the worst case. Innovative black start and grid restoration methods significantly reduce the risk of damages caused by blackouts. Through its black start capability, WEMAG’s battery storage makes a significant contribution to this. Further tests with different configurations and including renewable energies can now follow” said Christian Pegel, Minister of Energy, Infrastructure and Digitization in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

“Our theory that it is possible to power up a gas turbine using a battery power plant and to synchronize the resulting islanded grid has been fully confirmed,” said Manfred Krüger, a research fellow at the University of Rostock.

This successful trial marks the completion of Phase 1 of the so-called “Kickstarter” project, aimed at bringing black start capability to market. Phase 2, planned for next year, will look to re-establish power supply using the black start capability of the battery plant in conjunction with renewable energy systems. In addition, the autonomous supply of such a power island will be practically tested over a longer period before being synchronized with the transmission grid. The innovative “black start concept” is funded with the help of the “Future-oriented Electricity Networks” initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.