ProfiNRG aims to play leading role in rollout of large battery systems
Storing electricity is an inseparable part of the energy system of the future. Currently in the Netherlands, all signals are green for the large-scale introduction of battery systems for the utility and C&I market. ‘The political climate, the technical solutions and the business cases are there and we want to play a leading role in this,’ said Cees van de Werken, CEO of ProfiNRG. ‘We will do that as an agile innovative party that combines quality with competitive pricing.’
Europe is stepping up its energy transition with the Green Deal. In 2021, the EU presented a large package of measures that would allow for a 55 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Thus, the target regarding the share of renewable energy in 2030 was adjusted from 32 percent to 40 percent. Meanwhile, that reality has already been overtaken by current events. The day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, EU President Ursula von der Leyen spoke of the need for an energy-independent Europe and further accelerating energy transition. It was topped off with the new plan REPowerEU. Europe now wants to get to 45 percent renewable energy by the end of this decade; for that, among other things, the rollout of solar panels must be doubled. Many member states have since moved.
“For example, Germany presented a mega investment plan in renewable energy,” Van de Werken said. ‘The urgency is also widely felt in the Netherlands. When accelerating towards a sustainable energy system, however, the options for now are limited; we will have to make do mainly with wind and solar energy. That brings numerous challenges. For example, the mass rollout of wind turbines is not as fast as you would like. Solar energy is only produced when it is light and the yield depends on seasonal influences. So one of the big tasks is to solve the problem of simultaneity between energy generation and energy consumption. The storage of renewable energy is a necessity in this regard, both for the long and short term. With this, a new phase in creating the energy system of the future is dawning.’
Fast and radical
Van de Werken started ProfiNRG in 2009. He pioneered the installation of solar panels on the roofs of individuals and farms. The company has since become one of the market leaders in the Dutch market for large solar roofs and solar fields. ProfiNRG is an EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) and thus takes responsibility for the entire process of realizing gutter solar systems for developers. In recent years, that world has been changing rapidly and radically, in part because of the limitations of the electricity grid in the Netherlands.
Energy supplier 2.0
Van de Werken: ‘There are more and more locations in our country where grid congestion is a major problem. In those places, large solar energy systems cannot be connected or can only be connected partially. This stagnates the energy transition and the growth of the solar energy sector. However, a battery storage system can provide a solution in many cases. I am convinced that in the foreseeable future no solar roof or park will be built without a battery. Customers already often ask us about the possibilities. They will increasingly play the role of energy supplier 2.0; flexibly switching off when needed, supplying directly to end users and storing solar power for later use. The days of generating as much solar power as possible and always being able to inject it into the grid are over.’
Few large storage systems were installed in the Netherlands by 2022. However, Berend Schols, Solution Manager Energy Transition at ProfiNRG indicates that this will soon change. A large number of projects are in the pipeline, and that has everything to do with the emergence of positive business cases.
“Three-quarters of a year ago, there was no revenue model for large battery containers,” Schols says. ‘Now there is. That has everything to do with the volatility of electricity prices. Thanks to the amount of solar energy we are already generating, the price of electricity on sunny days is falling dramatically, in fact it is increasingly negative. At other times, it skyrockets. That means that you can usually make the investment in a battery at this point already around with trading on the day-ahead market.
That will remain a stable business case with further rollout of solar PV, where, for example, trading on the frequency market is finite because it does not allow more than 110 megawatts of assets. The other side of the issue concerns the utilization of solar farm connections. Full-load hours are limited – averaging about 12.5 percent over a year. With a battery, you can use this connection 100% by using the battery for energy trading when the sun is not shining.’
Ahead of the troops
One of ProfiNRG’s clients is sister company Sunvest. For that developer of solar parks, it is building, among other things, Zonnepark Zuidbroek on the A7 in the province of Groningen. There it combines a 50-megawatt peak solar field with a 20-megawatt-hour battery. This puts ProfiNRG ahead of the troops in terms of utility-scale energy storage in the Netherlands. One of the goals of this project is to gain experience, for example in technical design, the match between generation and storage capacity, the construction of the system, the behavior and control of the battery and what you can earn from it. In this way, ProfiNRG is anticipating the emergence of a crowded market.
Schols: “We obviously have an edge with our knowledge of solar farm construction and behavior. At the same time, in terms of applying large battery systems, there is still much to learn, also with regard to cooperation with our partners, energy suppliers and grid operators, for example. Moreover, there are many parties that will be moving into this market. Among other things, we want to distinguish ourselves as a provider of quality with competitive pricing. This is also possible as an agile, innovative and independent company. The same is true with regard to commercial and industrial storage systems that are sure to break through in the Netherlands this year.
We offer companies battery systems from 500 kilowatt-hours to many megawatt-hours. This can be done in conjunction with the installation of solar panels, as an addition to already existing renewable energy systems and even separately. For example, they can increase self-consumption of solar power or meet their energy needs when obtaining or increasing grid connection is an issue. ProfiNRG absolutely wants to be a leading player in that market as well.’