REE: Technological innovation projects for the stability of isolated electricity systems

A line of Red Electrica de España

Red Eléctrica is spearheading a major effort to have efficient elements and that can provide a swift response in order to help maintain stability in weak or isolated electricity systems, particularly in the Canary Islands.

One of the noteworthy aspects is the need for more effective frequency control, thus avoiding situations of risk for the system that can lead to load shedding or even “Black-Out” situations.

The two most recent initiatives are the ALISIOS and STABILITY FACTS innovation projects.

ALISIOS Innovation Project (Energy storage for the integration of renewables in isolated systems)

With the objective of maintaining the stability of an isolated electricity system, such as that of the island of Tenerife, with the integration of renewable energies, the project aims to assess the impact of the installation of an electricity (power) storage system from the point of view of the improvement of system frequency, the mitigation of sudden variations of renewable generation and the increase in the contribution of these energies to the energy mix under secure conditions and guaranteeing supply.

The results obtained will allow the possibilities of these systems to be assessed in order to solve the present and future challenges derived from the massive introduction of non-manageable renewable generation in isolated systems.

The project, which began in February 2017, is structured in two phases: the first involves a detailed definition of the proposed technological solution and the carrying out of impact studies, and the second will focus on the validation of the prototype in real conditions and the implementation and integration into the operating systems.

The project will last four years and has a overall budget that could exceed 10 million euros.

STABILITY FACTS Innovation Project

This project is focused on designing, engineering, implementing and test of behaviour in field of a device, that allows the main parameters (frequency, voltage and power oscillations) to be controlled. Said parameters provide stability to an isolated, weak and unsupported electricity system such as that of the Canary Islands.

The device, which will be installed in a substation of the Fuerteventura-Lanzarote electricity system, will use power electronics technology (electronic circuits that couple the conduction of energy from different generation technologies in terms of frequency, wavelength quality, etc.) with a capacity of 25 MVAr (megavolt-ampere reactive) to regulate the voltage in a substation, and combine it with supercapacitor-based energy storage technology (provides active power control and injects the stored energy into the system in a very short time frame) to give support to frequency control, as it drops when consumption exceeds that being generated.

The project was started at the end of 2014 and is being carried out in two phases: the first one is to obtain a laboratory prototype with which to validate the device design and control algorithms, and the second phase in which a demonstration model will be developed and subsequently installed in one of Red Eléctrica’s transmission substations.

With a total budget of 7.5 million euros and a project term of six years, the first phase of the project is being carried out in collaboration with two partners of reference in power electronics design and applications and with the support of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and is financed with ERDF funds, through the Innterconecta programme managed by the CDTI (Industrial Technology Development Centre).

The development of these two projects is geared towards gaining knowledge about the advantages that the new resources available, as these technologies advance, can offer in order to improve the operation of the electricity system.