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How large-scale battery farm accelerates our energy transition

Centrica Business Solutions, a provider of integrated energy solutions, is building a 24-megawatt battery farm in Ostend with a capacity of 48 megawatt hours. Sweco was responsible for preparing the environmental permit application and is further monitoring the project.

Batteries are an essential part of the energy transition as they can store excess power and supply it when demand arises. This project will improve the stability of our electricity network and facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources.

From feasibility to construction
Sweco first carried out research into the project’s permit feasibility and conducted a screening of the technical design. We then drew up the environmental permit application in consultation with the City of Ostend, with a specific focus on the green design and efficient use of space on the site. In the subsequent project phase, we are supporting Centrica in a role as Owner’s Engineer for the technical specifications of the project and follow-up of the execution phase. Construction has since started, and the battery system is expected to be operational by early 2024.

Electricity network in balance
This battery project on the Ostend Basic Chemicals (OBC) company site was selected in the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM) to ensure Belgium’s security of supply. Once the plant starts operating, it will fulfil that important role with gusto. After all, the Belgian energy system is facing enormous challenges to manage the energy transition. Variable production from solar and wind energy, among others, means the grid has to be constantly balanced. Smart battery technology addresses this issue and ensures that supply and demand are better aligned.

CO2 neutral solution
With a storage capacity of 48 MWh, it is possible to absorb the rated power of 5 onshore wind turbines at full load for two hours in case of surplus on the electricity network, or to supply the same amount of power in case of shortage. This amount of energy is equivalent to fully charging more than 800 electric cars. Renewably generated energy can therefore be flexibly matched to the energy demand of the grid without tapping fossil fuels, such as a gas power plant. Moreover, the site is located on the coastal region where a large amount of (offshore) wind energy comes ashore, resulting in potential congestion problems. This makes batteries a very interesting solution to mitigate the congestion problem. Moreover, they can be built relatively quickly.

Our contribution to renewable energy
Sweco has gained extensive experience in renewable energy projects. We are involved, for instance, in more than 1/3 of the onshore wind farms in Belgium and we are collaborating on the start-up of the first green hydrogen plants in the Benelux. Besides that, we are also intensively engaged in various developments for large-scale battery systems, where we are accumulating expertise both in the (electrical) design of such installations and in the preparation of environmental permit applications for such projects.