“Think big” – under this motto, a new multi-energy power plant has been built in China. The power plant integrates wind power (400 MW), photovoltaic (200 MW), concentrated solar energy (50 MW) and an energy storage system (100 MWh) into a uniform network system. It was built as part of the “Luneng Haixi Multi-Mixed Energy Demonstration Project” and is expected to generate around 126,000 MWh of electricity per year. After a 17-day test phase, it is now on the grid.
Operators hope that this project will signal the adoption of novel regenerative energy generation systems and smart grids around the world. HUANG Shilin, Vice Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer of battery specialist CATL, believes that this centralised multi-functional power plant will provide “incentives for more differentiated renewable energy projects around the world” due to its reliable technology and cost-effectiveness.
Equipped for adverse conditions
CATL is the largest Chinese battery supplier specialising in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems. Participating in the multi-energy power plant posed some challenges for CATL. Especially the heat management of the power plant was unusually complex. The new power station is located in Golmud, a remote region in the southwestern mountains of China. For the operation of batteries the area was less than suitable. Temperatures can vary between -33.6 and +35.5 degrees Celsius – a real stress test for the batteries. To allow the battery to last at least 15 years, CATL has installed a cooling system with air vents and airflow designs that keeps the temperature in the cabinet at a constant level. A battery management module activates the cooling system as soon as the temperature limit is exceeded and pre-stored electricity protects the battery from capacity drop.
Temperatures are not the only problem in the remote region. Golmud is located in an active earthquake area. Protection against vibrations and shocks were therefore absolutely necessary. In a Test & Validation Center, CATL provided evidence that the batteries can withstand a magnitude eight earthquake. By comparison, the highest earthquake ever measured had a magnitude of around 9.5. It destroyed a Chilean town and triggered a 25 meter high tsunami.
In Europe, the Chinese battery manufacturer plans to build a plant near Erfurt, Germany. CATL intends to increase its capacity by 14 GWh and from 2026 on it will increase its capacity to a three-digit range. This is what Matthias Zentgraf, European leader of the Chinese cell manufacturer, said at the Car Symposium in Bochum. If the plans become reality, CATL will outperform Elon Musk’s Gigafactory in Nevada, California, which currently has a capacity of 20 GWh.
Chinese energy companies are looking to Europe to collaborate with innovative companies on creating new projects. But where are European energy companies looking? What are the opportunities for European energy companies and what challenges exist? Let us know in the comment section on our LinkedIn profile.