Abu Dhabi home to world’s largest ‘virtual battery plant’

Abu Dhabi home to world’s largest ‘virtual battery plant’
Published: 3 February 2019 - 8 a.m.
By: Nikhil Pereira

Abu Dhabi is now home to the world’s largest ‘virtual battery plant’.

Although the battery units have been fitted across 10 different locations the department of energy in Abu Dhabi can control it virtually through a single plant.

The 108 MW/648 MWh sodium-sulfur battery plant opened in January and is about five times the size of the Tesla battery system installed in Hornsdale, Australia in 2017.

The UAE is making a major push towards using renewable energy as it targets 60% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050.

The UAE is reportedly set to spend $160bn by 2030 on renewable energy.

The country’s net zero push, led by Emirates Green Building Council, is also ensuring that older buildings get streamlined and use lesser energy generating a lower carbon footprint in the bargain.

For Abu Dhabi’s virtual solar park the authority opted for sodium-sulphur batteries (supplied by NGK) instead of going down the lithium-ion route that’s made popular for Elon Musk’s Tesla Powerpack.

It’s said that sodium-sulphur batteries can perform better in higher temperatures (as high as 300°C) making them a lot more robust and summer-ready.

The size of the UAE’s new battery system is so large that it could provide up to six hours of backup power in case Abu Dhabi’s electricity grid goes down. For such longer-duration storage, sodium-sulfur batteries become cheaper than lithium-ion batteries, according to an NGK representative.

The UAE installation beats NGK’s previous battery record, which went online in Japan with a power capacity of 50 MW and an energy capacity of 100 MWh.

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