By Thomas James, Welsh Section Chair
In November, members of IGEM’s Welsh Section visited the Green Frog peaking power site at Westfield Industrial Park, Swansea.
The site generates up to 40MW of electricity for the national grid. With 27 engines, the natural gas sites can start and be online within 30 seconds. And, just as importantly, they can be started and stopped repeatedly without an impact on the equipment.
The UK government has a strong commitment to sustainable energy sources. However, solar, wind and other renewable energy forms are prone to unpredictable drops in output, such as when the wind suddenly falls or clouds cover the sun.
When this happens, the grid needs replacement energy to plug the gaps and keep the lights on. This site (and others like it) is just one of a number of solutions to enable the transition to cleaner energy. The tour included a discussion on Green Frog Power, their UK sites and a look at the onsite engines.
A major area of discussion was the impact that any work can have on the operation of the gas engines, such as maintenance undertaken by the electric or gas networks. The flexible and affordable solutions that Green Frog provide enable the low carbon revolution to continue apace, while addressing rising concerns around future energy security.
The calculations to determine the best times for the operation of the gas engines and generation of electricity are highly complex and depend on multiple factors. During the tour, the engines were started and run for a very short period of time. It was amazing how quiet they are when in full operation and the Wales & West Utilities System Operations team was able to see the drop in pressure associated with the draw on the distribution network.
The visit was well attended with 13 people from a variety of backgrounds. Thanks must go to the managers and engineers from Green Frog who showed us the site and answered our questions.