At the site of the chemical company Ostend Basic Chemicals, construction has started on a brand-new battery park. By early 2024, it will be able to store electricity on a large scale. The investor, British energy company Centrica, wants to use the battery array primarily to keep the Elia high-voltage grid in balance. In case of surpluses or shortages, the battery can respond at lightning speed by charging or discharging. With a capacity of 24 megawatts, the battery array can also be used to store renewable energy.
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Centrica (UK) builds a new battery park in Flanders
For Centrica, one of the largest suppliers of electricity and gas in the UK, the battery farm in Ostend is the first overseas project of its kind. And it’s not a coincidence the company chooses to invest here. In 2017, Centrica acquired Antwerp-based aggregator Restore, which specializes in industrial demand-side management. Together, the flexible machines, furnaces, cooling and chemical plants they manage form a type of virtual power plant. They can simultaneously switch off when power is scarce or support the grid by storing extra at times of overproduction.
This is just the beginning. We are planning a considerable number of large battery projects in the region.
Investing tens of millions of euros in Flanders is a logical step for Centrica, which has been providing operational control services for other battery farms in the region. The new battery park in Ostend is not a one-off, but part of a targeted strategy to build Centrica-owned installations all over Europe.
Alongside Centrica, specialized players in renewable energy, such as BStor, Corsica Sole, Storm, Ruien Energy Storage, Nala Renewables and Giga Storage and established energy companies such as Engie, RWE and Eneco, are also fully committed to building ever larger battery arrays in the region. It’s clear the battery farm market is flourishing in Flanders – and whole of Belgium – and it seems everyone wants to get in on the action.