UK Minting It in Microgrids

Aug. 17, 2021
For more than 1,400 years the UK’s Royal Mint has been responsible for producing the crown’s coinage but now it is set to move firmly into the 21st century with a novel microgrid development.

The Royal Mint at Llantrisant in Wales has signed a tender agreement with renewable energy company Infinite to install an integrated energy and microgrid development — what Infinite calls a local energy center.

Formed in 2010 to develop merchant wind power and now expanding into microgrids, Infinite plans to integrate local energy generation, energy storage and smart metering across the microgrid using an intelligent power management system.

A long-term power purchase agreement with the Royal Mint marks the core of the project. Plans call for eventually expanding the microgrid beyond the manufacturing site to supply neighboring businesses and industries. 

“Your anchor tenant is a high intensity energy user like the Royal Mint. You build the energy center around that anchor tenant but then look to hive off power to other industries within the area, which mitigates the risk of the investment,” Andrew Crossman, director at Infinite, told Microgrid Knowledge when explaining the business model. 

“This is phase one; we’re looking to build phases two and three, which will increase the capacity, and then we can extend the microgrid out to other areas,” he added.

Renewables, CHP fuel local energy center

At Llantrisant, the local energy center will incorporate a 2-MW solar power project on adjacent land that will supply an estimated 2.4 GWh annually. An on-site wind turbine, a Vestas 850-kW “Daffodil” that was supplied by Infinite in 2018, already supplies around 10% of site power demand. 

A new 2-MW combined heat and power (CHP) unit completes the generation portfolio that will be coupled with a containerized battery storage system with an 800 kW peak output. The battery system will include both lithium ion and lead acid technologies. The lithium ion batteries will deliver short-term peak power while the lead acid component offers longer-term bulk storage capacity. 

“There are two main drivers; there is a big push to get to zero carbon and reduce the environmental impact but also discounted power. There is no capital outlay for the manufacturers; they are driving down their carbon footprint and they are benefiting from discounted green power,” said Crossman.

Expected to be operational by autumn 2022, the local energy center is part of the Generation Storage Consumption Supply project. It is one of up to seven microgrid projects under development by Infinite in south and west Wales, including its first energy center at the Rassau industrial estate that features a combination of wind turbines, solar photovoltaics and battery storage. 

One of seven Infinite microgrid projects

Announced earlier this year, the first phase of the Rassau project has already been commissioned. The seven centers are partly grant funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) with match funding provided by Infinite’s partner, Albion Community Power. The total CAPEX for the project is £14.4 million, of which £8.9 million (US$20 million and US$12.5 million, respectively) is coming from the ERDF.

“What we are trying to do is create an energy center model that makes local generation of renewable energy technology more practical and fundable by using a microgrid to distribute the power without having to export to the grid,” Crossman said. 

“The renewable microgrid is a big step in the decentralization of energy distribution, which hopefully will result in locally generated renewables being the primary power source and with the grid as the backup,” Crossman added.

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About the Author

David Appleyard

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