RWE successful in National Grid Pathfinder 3 competition

RWE, one of the UK’s leading electricity generators, has been successfully awarded a contract by the UK Electricity System Operator (ESO), through National Grid’s Pathfinder 3 competition.

The programme is designed to help ensure the stability of the electricity network in targeted regions across England and Wales, enabling greater volumes of renewable energy projects to be connected to the grid in the future, as the UK continues to decarbonise.

Under the contract, RWE will construct a specialist unit, called a Synchronous Condenser1, which will be the first of its kind that the company has built in the UK. The unit will be located at RWE’s existing Pembroke power station site in South Wales, and is expected to start construction in 2023, becoming operational in the second half of 2025.

The investment is an important part of RWE’s ambitious decarbonisation plans for the Pembroke Net Zero Centre (PNZC). The PNZC is proactively bringing together knowledge and expertise from across RWE’s offshore wind, gas-fired generation and hydrogen businesses to develop and deliver new decarbonised energy solutions.

Richard Little, RWE Director of the PNZC said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this contract – our first major investment into Pembroke Net Zero Centre. which will complement and further enable other projects at the site. This Pathfinder project is a great example of finding the best available technology at the best value, in order to answer the technical challenges the grid is faced with when delivering a net zero energy sector.”

A synchronous condenser does not generate power and as a result there are no additional airborne emissions or requirements for water usage. Instead, it adds inertia to the network, which is critical for the stability of the grid.

RWE is at the forefront of green innovation and is aiming to invest £15 billion in the UK in green energy projects by 2030. The company has a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on in the development of wind, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage projects across Europe, and at the same time creating skilled green jobs.

1 Synchronous condensers – have been available for decades to support transmission system reliability. However as the grid became more mature and reliable, synchronous condensers became obsolete.  A synchronous condenser does not generate power, and instead adjusts conditions on the electric power transmission grid. Its field is controlled by a voltage regulator to either generate or absorb reactive power as needed to adjust the grid’s voltage. This process helps to meet reactive power needs, boost system inertia and short-circuit strength.