As the archipelago of the Philippines goes through an energy transition, the islands of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao need to ensure their grids run smoothly, and that they are stable and secure.
While this is a characteristic of all grids, deviations as small as one percent can damage transmission equipment, cause momentary outages, or blackouts.
Why Frequency Regulation Is Becoming More Difficult for the Philippines
As the Philippines pushes to hit targets of 35 percent renewable energy generation by 2030 and 50 percent by 2040, grids are grappling with increasing system frequency variations brought about by the variability of renewables. Despite the fact that the Philippines already pays power generators to provide such services, the nation’s ancillary services market is still nascent.
To ensure that power consumers can access affordable, reliable, and increasingly available renewable power, the market must quickly transition into a healthy and competitive environment for ancillary services. This transition is not simple. Developing a competitive market will require grid operators and regulators to overcome the Ancillary Services Trilemma: capability, availability, and affordability.
How Battery-Based Energy Storage Systems Excel at Frequency Regulation
Contingent events such as generator or load trippings happen in seconds, making response speed critical. Here energy storage outperforms both traditional and alternative frequency regulation products. Rapid technological advances have made storage capable of responding to frequency deviations over 2,000 times faster than a fast-starting open-cycle gas turbine—the kind of generation assets that are currently engaged in many ancillary services programs in the Philippines. The flexibility of energy storage also makes it well-suited for frequency control. Storage can be quickly and easily deployed with a smaller footprint than any other generation asset per MW. In addition to regulating frequency disruptions caused by variable renewables, storage firms and smooths the inherent intermittency of these generation sources, helping clear congestion from transmission lines and storing renewable power for use during peak load times.
Global Examples of Battery-Based Energy Storage Systems Successfully Regulating Frequency
Success stories of energy storage regulating frequency already exist across the world, dating back a decade. In 2012, Chile installed a 20 MW system owned and operated by AES Gener that took over frequency regulation for a spinning reserve turbine, providing a no-carbon alternative for the grid stability. In the Dominican Republic, a case relevant to the Philippines given the location on the typhoon belt, the grid boasts two 10 MW Fluence battery-based energy storage systems. In the UK, National Grid ESO has relied on storage to preserve grid infrastructure during unexpected outages.
Six Steps to Build the Frequency Regulation Market in the Philippines
As the Philippines continues to integrate new solar and wind farms, small-scale frequency regulation and patchwork activity won’t suffice. Instead, a master rollout plan is necessary. To help with this, Fluence developed a six-step process called CHARGE for building an effective frequency regulation market. The CHARGE program is designed to help system operators and policymakers understand the constraints and limitations of existing resources and how they interact with the system. Then, depending on the characteristics of the grid (seasonality, interconnection, radial connection, etc.), run pilot storage projects to develop a ground-tested framework and policy that can be easily rolled up to a grid-wide ancillary services market with ample energy storage assets available to regulate frequency.
The Philippines is in a critical phase of market growth and ancillary services are becoming as important to grid functioning as energy supply, yet thus far they haven’t received nearly the same attention. With the right rules and protocols, willingness to innovate, and a deeper understanding of battery storage, grids can be built to reliably support a clean energy future.
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