Ecoult installs first European UltraBattery in Dublin, Ireland


East Penn’s Australian subsidiary Ecoult has installed its lead-acid hybrid UltraBattery in Dublin, Ireland, which makes it the first European installation.
The UltraFlex battery, a lead-acid battery with an added layer of carbon, was developed by the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which owned Ecoult until it was bought by the US manufacturing giant East Penn in May 2010.
South Dublin County Council and the Irish Micro Electricity Generation Association (MEGA) chose the Ecoult UltraBattery for its Tallaght smart grid testbed in what could be just one of 30 nationwide installations.
Chief engineer and director of MEGA Dudley Stewart said the testing was at level one, with a further two levels to go, but signs were positive.
“Ecoult’s battery is very interesting, there’s a good chance of it being the right solution for grid stability because it can really take a hammering and still provide grid response,” he said.
“It’s not a traditional lead-acid battery because of the layer of carbon, which allows the battery to discharge as quickly as an ultracapacitor without doing it any harm, and it can do it for many, many more cycles.
“It was already tested in Kilkenny under very severe conditions and it was successful.”
Stewart said cloud intermittency was one of the biggest problems for solar energy in Ireland’s renewable energy industry, and the ultimate aim was to provide high frequency response.
“This is just a 300 kilowatt-hour system, but we are still in the first stage and there is another 2MW system being built for the next stage,” he said.
“Our first job is to stabilize the grid. Then we provide the smart meters, the equipment, all with high intelligence. Then we aim for a smart demand response. You don’t know where the demand is going to come from, and we are aiming for a smart, visible demand response, with all communities equipped with reserves and frequency response.”
“The UltraBattery is a hybrid technology,” said Ecoult chief executive John Wood. “It contains both battery chemistry and ultracapacitor technology built into each cell. This Australian invention has the safety, sustainability and dependability of lead-acid, and has been shown to outperform other battery chemistries in similar applications.”
German renewable systems and power converter manufacturer Freqcon has supplied the converter technology in the project.
Freqcon chief executive Norbert Hennchen said: “The market for grid-tied energy storage systems is growing, and fast frequency response is a valuable system service to the grid. We are excited to partner Ecoult and deploy the first unit in Europe.“
Last year, Hydro Tasmania in Australia integrated an Ecoult UltraBattery system, capable of 3MW of power and 1.6Mwh of capacity, into the local network. It was the largest battery in Australia.