Canadian Consulting Engineer

Engineers design massive “batteries” for storing electrical power

January 13, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

One of the biggest challenges facing the power supply industry is how to meet the fluctuating demands of customers.

One of the biggest challenges facing the power supply industry is how to meet the fluctuating demands of customers. Until recently it has not been possible to keep electricity in reserve on a large enough scale.
Now British-based AMEC, an engineering company with a large Canadian component, is helping to design plants that are like a large rechargeable battery designed to allow large amounts of electrical energy to be stored then released on demand.
Regenesys(TM) Technologies has contracted AMEC to provide detailed engineering for a demonstration power storage plant in Columbus, Mississippi — the first in North America. AMEC has also helped design the first ever commercial scale Regenesys demonstration plant recently completed at Little Barford, in Cambridge, England. The U.K. plant will have a 15 MW output and be able to store 120 MWh of electricity — enough to service 10,000 domestic customers for a day.
The Regenesys technology uses regenerative fuel cells. All fuel cells work by oxidizing a fuel electronically to produce electric power. Regenerative fuel cells can not only generate power, but also absorb power and reverse the electrochemical reaction.
AMEC has signed a five-year framework agreement with Regenesys. Under the agreement the two companies will develop the plants for sale to third parties, with AMEC providing everything from feasibility studies through to full design, engineering, construction and commissioning.
Meanwhile, in Canada, AMEC is involved in the Iter Consortium which is developing fusion power, an even more revolutionary technology. Fusion is the type of energy used by the sun and stars.
The Iter consortium, which has participation from Russia, The EU and Japan, plans to build a $12 billion research and development centre to develop fusion power as a clean and sustainable energy source, with tritium as a fuel. One of the proposed sites is in Clarington, east of Toronto, on the site of the Darlington nuclear plant, which is a source of the material. A decision on the site is due shortly.
If Canada is successful in its bid, AMEC would manage the initial environmental assessment and monitoring over the lifetime of the project. It will be the second largest international collaborative research and development investment after the International Space Station.


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