Just over two years ago, energy developer Balance Power, announced they were to make the move from a leading developer of peak generation projects into the energy asset owner and operator sector.
To achieve this Balance Power partnered with global EPC company Sterling and Wilson and created SWB Power. The partnership has proven extremely successful in the design, procurement, delivery and financing of projects. This couldn’t be more evident as the company reach the commissioning phase of the first two projects taken on by the partnership: the 20MW Skelmersdale project and the 14MW St Helens project, totalling 34.12 MW. In addition to these projects Balance Power have developed a portfolio of over 150MW of “shovel ready” projects which will become the next stage of the company’s growth.
Balance Power Group Ltd have offices based in St Helens and a team with an extensive history and reputation in developing and managing power projects. Balance Power recognised that the way the world generates and consumes electricity is evolving, becoming more sustainable and flexible generation represented an enormous potential for growth in the energy mix. Balance Power provide a more environmentally friendly way of meeting today’s increasing demand for energy and supports the shift to a greener and more flexible energy market; this considered with an ethical view of the market as well as a strong business plan has brought Balance Power success and will continue to do so.
Each peak generation plant provides security of supply to the electrical network as they can be available and exporting power at full capacity to the electrical network within minutes of being called upon. This response to volatility in prices and stabilising supply during peak times of day keeps the network from failing at times of strain. Historically, energy for the UK has been provided by large centralised power stations with high levels of reliability. As the UK close reliable but outdated and unsustainable centralised coal and gas fired power plants and increase the deployment of decentralised intermittent generation such as wind and solar plants, this will create opportunity for peak generation plants to be available to surges in demand. Balance Power believe these surges in demand are only going to increase with electric vehicles and devices becoming more commonplace. Deployment of renewable generation is key to a sustainable future however cannot be relied upon during peak demand times as they require input which is inherently unpredictable. In addition, the plants also help reduce energy prices to consumers by reducing the impact of supply and demand mismatches. As an example of the benefit these assets will bring to the electricity network 1MW of capacity will be capable of powering approximately 3,500 homes.
Ruaridh Mitchell, Development Director of Balance Power, said:
“The carbon content of natural gas is relatively low compared to other forms of fossil fuels and is readily available in existing infrastructure. Our high efficiency gas engines provide the perfect partnership to renewable energy sources which are reliant on wind, sun or tide. They allow the energy supply to remain stable during times of volatility and help facilitate the transition to a low carbon future which is more renewable energy focussed. Without peak generation to balance the shortfall from renewables the energy provision would be too volatile during peak demand times to guarantee a stable energy supply countrywide.”
Without flexible gas and battery assets connecting to the grid to manage frequency and demand, the risk of blackouts like the one witnessed on 9th August 2019 (caused by a wind farm going offline and a gas fired centralised power station going into maintenance simultaneously) will increase. Over a million people were affected across England and Wales. The impact was felt by hospitals, airports, the rail network and highlighting the importance of a resilient grid network.
Peak power plants are relatively small-scale projects (typically accommodated within 0.5 of an acre) utilising highly efficient gas engines connected to the mains gas network for import of gas and an electrical connection for the subsequent export of generated electricity. The projects are expected to operate during peak demand times and not for more than 2,500 hours per annum (under MCPD permit). Revenue from the power plant is made from the sale of the energy created, National Grid Capacity Market contracts and various embedded benefits.