A threefold capacity increase at Europe’s first commercial battery plant should allow the project’s owner to add new revenue streams to existing frequency response services.

Younicos, which contributed to the second phase of the Schwerin battery park owned by North Germany regional utility WEMAG, said the extension will help the project provide black-start capabilities on top of its primary role in frequency regulation.

“Its main function is to stabilize electricity supply, especially when renewable energy sources fluctuate,” said Younicos in a press release. “In addition, the battery park can help to restart the grid after major disruptions, so that damage can be avoided.”

WEMAG, which operates a regional distribution grid in western Mecklenburg, northern Brandenburg and Lower Saxony, commissioned Schwerin 1, with 5 megawatts of output and 5 megawatt-hours of energy, from Younicos in 2014. 

The plant was intended to deliver primary frequency regulation services and help balance fluctuating generation from around 800 megawatts of wind power. Schwerin 1 was equipped with 25,600 Samsung lithium-manganese-oxide cells and five medium-voltage transformers. 

Last year, though, WEMAG decided to spend €5 million ($5.9 million) to increase the plant’s power output to 10 megawatts and extend its energy capacity to 15 megawatt-hours.

Younicos was brought in to provide plant control software, support WEMAG with technical expertise and integrate additional power electronics into the system.

“The fact that WEMAG is investing €5 million to increase the power and energy is a strong testament to the commercial success of battery storage,” said Alexander Schönfeldt, Younicos vice president of sales for Europe, Middle East and Africa, last year.

Building work on the facility began last October and the Schwerin 2 power block was commissioned last month.

The upgrade makes Schwerin Europe’s largest hybrid lithium-ion battery network, with the 10 megawatts of power installed this year comprising 53,444 Samsung lithium-ion batteries in 215 cabinets, along with 18 inverters, nine transformers and a medium-voltage system. 

“We integrated two different battery types under one roof, which was challenging from the point of view of cooling and the greatly increased capacity of new batteries,” said Tobias Struck, managing director of WEMAG-owned Batteriespeicher Schwerin, in a press statement.

The upgrade will allow Schwerin to take part in a black-start services initiative called Kickstarter, which Younicos said is currently being brought to market.

Kickstarter is supported by a consortium including WEMAG, Younicos, the Chair for Electrical Power Supply at the University of Rostock, and municipal energy supplier Energieversorgung Schwerin, with funding from the Federal Ministry of Economics.

A key feature of the Schwerin 2 project is that it will give the battery plant enough spare capacity to provide black-start services without having to leave the frequency response market, said Younicos spokesperson Philip Hiersemenzel.

WEMAG may choose to add further services to boost revenues at Schwerin, following the example set by the U.K.’s Smarter Network Storage (SNS) project, Hiersemenzel hinted.

“The commissioning of the WEMAG and the U.K. SNS plants was almost back to back, and they were both very important,” he said. “The U.K.’s SNS plant was a commercial trial proving batteries can provide different services and you can stack the revenue.”

Revenue-stacking is now a common feature of battery plant business cases, but was relatively unheard of when WEMAG commissioned Schwerin. With the upgrade, “We’ve now enabled it to take part in many other markets,” said Hiersemenzel.

In 2015, SNS owner U.K. Power Networks revealed details of the business case to justify its £11.4 million ($17.4 million) investment in battery storage. The British utility commissioned its 6-megawatt/10-megawatt-hour battery storage system to harden a local substation.

Its figures showed how the lifetime installed cost of the SNS facility in Leighton Buzzard could be offset by savings and revenues worth up to about £8 million ($12.2 million) over the life of the project.   

The utility also said that SNS could deliver around £2.5 million ($3.8 million) in what it called "societal benefits," such as displacing the need for additional peak generation capacity and reducing carbon emissions.

Today, though, the business case for the project would be more compelling because of the lower cost of batteries.