Irish energy storage

VRB Power Systems has entered into an agreement with Tapbury Management Limited of Letterkenny, Ireland for the sale of a 12MWH energy storage system.

VRB Power Systems has entered into a sale agreement with Tapbury Management Limited of Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland for the sale of a 1.5 MW x 8 hour (12 MWH) VRB-ESS energy storage system.

Tapbury oversees the management of Sorne Hill Windfarm, a recently commissioned 32MW windfarm which is located in Buncrana, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.

The 12MWH VRB-ESS will be coupled to Phase II of the Sorne project – an additional 6.9MW of wind power for which turbines have been ordered and are due to be installed during the autumn of 2007. This will make Sorne, at 38MW, one of the largest wind farms in Ireland.

The total contract value for VRB Power from this sale is approximately $6.3m. The sale is subject to the execution of final contracts between VRB Power and Tapbury. The sale is also conditional upon Tapbury completing its offtake and other commercial agreements, obtaining licences and permits for the system and completing its project finance requirements.

Subject to the performance results from this initial 12MWH VRB-ESS, Tapbury has the option to expand the power and storage elements of the system to cover the existing 32MWs of wind power at Sorne which would equate to approximately 50MWHs of additional VRB energy storage.

‘With approximately 3,000MW of wind energy in the application process in Ireland, we believe that there could be a need for in excess of 700MW of storage in Ireland to enable the successful roll out of this abundant resource,’ said John Ward, Director and shareholder in Tapbury and Sorne Wind Energy Limited. ‘With the VRB system, we will be enabled to significantly expand and develop the substantial wind energy resources which the country has.

‘In terms of our own portfolio of wind projects, we would have some 70-80 MW of wind projects which would be immediately enabled by this technology. We are currently in discussions with Bord Gais Energy Supply, in relation to the offtake of the VRB-ESS conditioned wind power from phase II at Sorne. Bord Gais Energy Supply is an Independent Energy Supplier in Ireland and has approximately 12% of the commercial electricity supply market.’

‘This purchase is a significant milestone in the development of a real and credible alternative to fossil generation in Ireland, and Europe. This is the culmination of around two years work, and we see it as only the beginning of an expansion in the size and number of wind generation installations in Ireland. Ireland has one of the best wind regimes in the world, but because wind is intermittent, this was always going to be a resource which could not previously be fully exploited,’ concluded Ward.

Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI) is Ireland’s national energy agency. Tapbury is investigating funding opportunities for the project with SEI. Energy storage is identified by SEI as one of its research priorities within the terms of its Renewable Energy R&D programme. Ireland has relatively low electrical power demand and limited interconnection with external networks. Energy storage is regarded by SEI as an important technology which may enable Ireland to reach its full renewable energy potential.