Innovative technology to minimise grid disruption
An interesting project on the Faroe Islands is showcasing the use of synchronous condenser (SC) technology to aid grid stabilisation efforts. ABB is working with SEV, the main electrical power producer and distributor for the Faroe Islands, to deliver innovative SC technology that will stabilise its power grid as renewable generation replaces fossil-fuelled plant. The first SC unit is currently being commissioned on the island of Suðuroy. SEV has now placed an order for a similar unit to be located at Sund on Streymoy, the Faroes’ largest and most populous island.
SEV has an ambitious goal for the isolated Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic to become the world’s greenest group of islands. By 2030, it will be generating 100% green electricity from hydropower, solar and wind and potentially tidal streams. As well as being an important climate change initiative, this will bring economic benefits as the Faroes will no longer rely on expensive fossil-fuel imports.
Switching off the existing diesel-fuelled generating plant could significantly impact the stability of SEV’s grid. This is because the rotating equipment provides vital “spinning inertia” that keeps the system in balance. A particular challenge is that there are no power cables connecting the Faroe Islands to neighbouring countries, so its grid is unable to use external support.
How Can The Operator Keep The Grid Stable?
To tackle this challenge, ABB is working with SEV to deliver innovative technology in the form of synchronous condensers. An SC is a rotating electrical machine that provides vital services to strengthen a power system and keep it stable as both loads and renewable energy production change. These services include inertia, fault level and reactive power for voltage regulation.
“We want to harness our natural sustainable energy resources so we can stop using oil,” says Magnus Rasmussen, Faroe Islands Minister of Environment, Industry and Trade. “This will enable us to future-proof our energy supply both onshore and offshore.”
“There is a growing need for networks to be supported by decentralised solutions that ensure grid stability and resilience. Synchronous condensers can play a vital role in strengthening weak networks, especially in remote areas,” says Heikki Vepsäläinen, president of ABB’s Large Motors and Generators Division. “Our expectation is that network operators worldwide will adopt SCs in ever-increasing numbers as the urgency to decarbonise electricity production continues to gather momentum.”
The first SC installation is at the 8 megavolt-ampere (MVA) Porkeri Wind Farm on Suðuroy, an electrically isolated island in the south of the archipelago. This unit will be fully up and running in the first half of 2022. Together with battery energy storage, the SC could enable 100% of the island’s demand to be met with wind energy at times with good wind conditions.
The second SC will be installed at Sund, close to Tórshavn, the Faroese capital on the island of Streymoy. It is scheduled to be online in 2023.