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TotalEnergies expands France’s commitment to battery storage

10 January 2022 Kevin Adler

TotalEnergies opened late last year the second phase of its battery energy storage system (BESS) facility in Dunkirk in northern France, bringing its capacity to 61 MW, the largest site in the nation and part of a gradual increase in storage nationally.

The project, known as Dunkirk II, adds to the 25 MW capacity of Dunkirk I, both located at a TotalEnergies oil refinery that's been repurposed for biofuels production and an LNG import terminal. Dunkirk II consists of 27 lithium-ion BESS units supplied by Saft Batteries.

TotalEnergies has two more BESS properties under development in its homeland that will bring the company's storage capacity to 129 MW in France by the end of 2022, the energy major said on 22 December. Those sites are Carling in northeast France (25 MW) and Grandpuits in north-central France (43 MW).

France lags behind Germany and the UK in battery storage capacity among European nations, with more than 800 MW of capacity, including the addition in 2021 of about 170 MW, according to IHS Markit. (The UK has about 12,000 MW of installed battery storage, and Germany more than 31,000 MW, according to IHS Markit's Energy Storage Geographic Profiles published last year.)

IHS Markit says that new installations of battery storage systems in France in 2022 could top 200 MW.

Speaking to Net-Zero Business Daily by email, George Hilton, IHS Markit energy storage senior analyst, said the industry in France is benefiting from new regulations that opened "access to multiple revenue streams" to pay for the installations. Most important among those streams is the long-term capacity auction known as AOLT, which provides generators and storage companies a guaranteed price for energy for seven years.

AOLT bids were made through the Ministry for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition in February 2020, which yielded winning bids for 253 MW of new storage capacity through 2028.

But the tender system's performance has been mixed so far, Hilton said. "A couple of years ago, the AOLT capacity tender led to a lot of new projects in France, which are now being built [and] commissioned, but we are yet to see this extended in a meaningful way," Hilton said.

With more nuclear power in its electricity mix than most other nations—about 71%, according to the International Energy Agency—France faces lower pressure from an emissions standpoint to transition to renewables and battery storage, Hilton pointed out.

This can be seen in the results of the AOLT tenders in 2020, which led to bids for new power and storage for 2021-2027 and 2022-2028 (and no bids for new capacity for 2020-2026). France's power transmission system operator RTE was seeking bids for up to 1,500 MW of power production and storage, and only 377 MW was allocated in total (253 MW of storage, and 124 MW of new power production).

TotalEnergies was the largest winner in the storage category in the auctions, with 130 MW of commitments. AFD7 followed with 75 MW, and RES won for 24 MW of capacity. Another half-dozen bidders won smaller, single-project awards.

Given the need for new tenders to support the next round of storage, growth will be "subdued" for a few years, Hilton said, though installations could surge past 300 MW per year by 2026 or 2027 if future tenders are successful.

For those future auctions to be successful, battery storage providers will seek to be compensated for additional benefits they bring to the power grid, such as constraint management, and secondary frequency response. Primary frequency response stabilizes the grid in response to frequency deviations, usually within 10 seconds; secondary response usually occurs within 30 seconds.

Dunkirk I and II are providing primary frequency response, according to TotalEnergies.

For TotalEnergies, battery storage supports its goal of being a leading player in the low-carbon transition. The company has stated that its goal is to reach 35 GW of wind, solar, and storage capacity by 2030 and 100 GW by 2050, which could place it in the top five renewable energy producers in the world. The company's current renewable electricity generation capacity is more than 10 GW.

RINGO project

RTE is making progress on a major battery storage project of its own, Project RINGO, which will ultimately deploy 100 MW of new storage at three sites. Its initial investment is €80 million ($95 million), the grid operator said when detailing the program in August.

Unlike TotalEnergies, RTE is pairing its storage directly with renewable power installations: wind farms in Vingeanne in eastern France; wind and solar sites in Bellac in the west; and solar sites in Ventavon in the southeast. Construction began in April 2021 at Vingeanne, and the first installation could be completed in the first quarter of 2022.

RTE has chosen different battery suppliers for each site: Nidec Asi at Vingeanne; Saft Batteries and Schneider Electric at Bellac; and Blue Solutions at Ventavon.

RTE has described RINGO as "virtual power lines," which it will manage in pilot tests for about three years. A virtual power line can expand the capacity of the line to serve peak demand periods, not just as a replacement of power for intermittent services such as solar and wind.

"ln a typical city, renewable energy could supply a peak demand of 130 MW. However, the existing power lines can only carry 100 MW," battery supplier Saft said. "By placing an energy storage system at either end of a grid bottleneck, RTE can create a virtual power line. This will store 30 MW upstream of the bottleneck at the same time as releasing 30 MW close to the city. As a result, customers in the city can draw the full 130 MW of renewable energy, even during peak periods."

Posted 10 January 2022 by Kevin Adler, Chief Editor

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