With the rise of electrification in society at large as well as large parts of the manufacturing industry and transportation sector, for example, there will be a higher need for CO2-free energy. Using batteries presents improved possibilities for hydropower plants to handle fast frequency reserve regulation for the grid. Fortum can also recycle lithium-ion batteries and recover the scarce metals.
Today, the Nordic electricity market is primarily balanced with CO2-free hydropower production, which has the ability to regulate electricity over the course of anywhere from a few seconds to several months. But as an energy engineer, I can see that the grid sometimes needs faster and more flexible regulation than what the hydropower plant’s turbines can handle. This will become more common as more weather-dependent production, primarily in the form of wind power, enters the system. Fortum is therefore testing different battery solutions to give hydropower the ability to meet the requirements of faster frequency reserve regulation as well. This strengthens renewable hydropower’s role in the energy system.
By using batteries for frequency reserve, we can handle and the requirements for speed with less impact on the plant. In a pilot study at Landafors hydropower plant in river Ljusnan, 20 km west of Söderhamn in Bollnäs municipality, Sweden, we are now testing the efficiency of plug-in hybrid batteries.
In this pilot, Volvo Cars is contributing with 48 batteries from, among other things, their plug-in hybrid cars. Some of the batteries are used, which means that they can no longer function in electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids. However, when these batteries lose their capacity to power an EV or plug-in hybrid, there is normally enough capacity left over to be used for something else. Together the batteries will have a combined storage capacity of 1 MW/250 kWh. This solution can reduce the stress on the mechanical parts of the powerplants’ turbines, and thereby increase its lifespan. This is a very concrete effort for increased sustainability in the energy system.
In addition to our collaboration with Volvo Cars, we have gotten support from Swedish cleantech company Comsys that has connected the batteries in one container. All the other electronics we need for controlling the batteries are in another container. We hope to achieve a frequency balancing under 1 second, the same level as in Forshuvud hydropower plant.
Several business functions at Fortum are involved in the project at Landafors. For us working with this, it is important that the batteries both get a second life in hydropower and then get their material recycled in a responsible way. Fortum can contribute to a sustainable battery value chain and to close the loop, with CO2 low technology Fortum also recycles lithium-ion batteries and recovers the scarce metals, thus contributing to lower the environmental impact of batteries.
This is the second battery project connected to a hydropower plant that Fortum is managing in the Nordics. Fortum only used new batteries at Forshuvud hydropower plant.
Alessandro Ferraris has been at Fortum since 2017 and has a background in innovative and sustainable energy engineering. Alessandro is the project manager and a key player in initiating the work of modernizing and extending the life of hydropower plant turbines by connecting them to an innovative battery solution.