New power stations to deliver back-up on the way to Net Zero

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STATERA Energy has signed a framework agreement with MAN Energy Solutions for the supply of a new class of natural gas reciprocating engine.

24 engines, which are the first of their kind to be deployed in Britain, will deliver a total of 300 MW of back-up power to the UK’s grid.

“The UK has set some of the most ambitious carbon and sustainability targets in the world, which will require a fundamental rethink of the way energy is produced, stored and used”, Tom Vernon, Managing Director of Statera Energy, said.

“Renewables are going to be the dominant source of power in the future, and while batteries will balance the grid for daily fluctuations in supply and demand, flexible gas generation will play a crucial role in efficiently guaranteeing the security of supply for those prolonged periods where there is low renewable generation.”

UK commitment to Net Zero means that weather-dependent, intermittent, renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar will need to be deployed at scale over the coming years.

As a result, balancing the supply and demand of electricity will become increasingly challenging as back-up forms of generation alongside energy storage will need to respond rapidly to fluctuations or shortfalls in the output of renewable sources of power.

Aurora Energy Research predicts that by 2050, 50TWh of back-up power will be needed to support renewables, which will represent around 9% of the energy mix.

In its Future Energy Scenario analysis, National Grid also suggests that gas will play a key part in meeting this requirement.

“Statera’s mission is to improve the efficiency of the current level of gas deployment using technology where the best flexibility and response times can be delivered. This will replace less efficient and less responsive gas and allow further development of renewables”, Mr Vernon continued.

“We are very pleased to be working with MAN Energy Solutions who has developed an engine that we believe is truly best in class, and leads the way in using Natural Gas and Synthetic Natural Gas to create electricity with maximum flexibility and efficiency.”

According to the company, Statera’s new plants mark ‘an innovative step change in the way natural gas can be used to meet the urgent nature of an energy deficit or peak demand on the UK electricity network when compared to current Combined Cycle Gas Turbine (CCGT) power plants.’

The Statera plants are stated to reach full capacity from standby within around five minutes, versus 60 minutes minimum for a CCGT.

The design has also been optimised to be ‘the most efficient way of turning natural gas to electricity for short runs of 4 hours or less.’

Analysis conducted by Aurora Energy Research predicts that the most common duration requirement for back-up power to support the renewable energy mix by 2050 will be for under 4 hours, which is why these new power plants are essential to meet this changing need.

“As a global pioneer, the UK is the first among the world’s leading industrial nations to commit itself to a zero-emission target; MAN Energy Solutions is proud and honoured to be part of such an important initiative”, Wayne Jones, OBE, Chief Sales Officer of MAN Energy Solutions, said.

“Our gas engines provide market-leading fuel efficiency and saving fuel ultimately means cutting emissions.

“As soon as it is available, the engines can also be operated on Synthetic Natural Gas, a fuel that can be generated from renewable energy and is 100% climate neutral. Studies expect the production of such green gas to ramp up within the next 10-15 years.

“In this way, Statera’s new plants are future-proofed and have the potential to contribute to a fully decarbonised economy.”

The engines will be installed in six new 50 MW Statera power plants over the next 18 months.