A giant battery for district heating in Ghent

EDF, through its Belgian branch EDF Luminus, is delivering innovative, sustainable solutions for managing energy in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way...

Source: EDF Luminus
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EDF, through its Belgian branch EDF Luminus, is delivering innovative, sustainable solutions for managing energy in a sustainable and environmentally responsible way. It has converted an old fuel oil storage tank at its Ham facility into an environmentally-friendly energy storage unit that will be used for district heating in Ghent, much more efficient and environmentally friendly than regular heating powered with natural gas.

 

A Storage unit containing 4.5 million litres of hot water

The Combined Heat and Power engines at the Ham power station in Ghent operate at full capacity during the day to deliver electricity, while also heating the 4.5 million litres of water, stored in the former storage tank, to 90°C. The stored water is used to feed Ghent’s district heating network at night, the largest one in Belgium.

Innovative and sustainable

Since the heat produced can now be stored in the energy storage unit, similarly to a battery with electricity, the CHP engines at the Ham site no longer have to adjust to district heating consumption levels. Instead, they can operate at full capacity when in use, which optimises their efficiency and reduces gas consumption. The cost of maintaining the CHP engines is also lower when the number of hours of operation is reduced, as maintenance costs are a function of how long the engines operate rather than how much energy they produce.

One of the key aspects in tackling climate change is to find efficient and affordable energy storage technologies. By turning an old fuel oil storage tank into an energy storage unit, EDF Luminus is paving the way. This heat storage will allow to smoothen the demand peak in the morning when residents of Ghent are turning on their heating systems, allowing the CHP plant to be operated as efficiently as possible.

 

An environmental heating solution

The district heating network is much more efficient and environmentally friendly than regular heating powered with natural gas. The overall efficiency of the installation has led to a 34% CO2 emission reduction. Luminus is thus helping the city reduce its environmental footprint.

 

Low budget project

The costs of the project were very limited thanks to the reuse of an existing insulated storage tank and the reuse of some pre-existing process installations on site.  This way the investment for the storage unit could be limited to about 400k€.

Payback time is about 6 years. The project did not benefit from any subsidy.

The development of the project was carried out in house. The construction works were executed by Luminus’ branch ATS.

A remarkable result of the project is that in periods of lower heat demand, for example on week-ends, the engines don’t need to run since the demand can be bridged extracting heat from the storage.