Mobile batteries to help electric stability

HHLA's CTA Automated storage blocks at HHLA's CTA. Credit HHLA/ Thies Rätzke

Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) and Next Kraftwerke GmbH are investigating the extent to which industrially used mobile battery capacities can be connected to the German power grid to stabilise it and help the Port of Hamburg go electric.

This follows the beginning of HHLA’s research and development work with partners on the German government-funded FRESH project at its Port of Hamburg-located Container Terminal Altenwerder (CTA). The goal is to integrate the battery capacities of the automated guided container transport vehicles (AGVs) that are in use at CTA into the German energy network as flexible storage units that contribute to the grid stability of the power supply.

By 2022, the approximately 100 AGVs in use at CTA for the transport of containers will be completely converted to fast-charging lithium-ion batteries. They could then provide 4 megawatts for the energy market at the 18 electric charging stations.

“This is, of course, not their primary purpose – container transport is. But in less busy times, free AGVs could provide battery capacity as mobile power stores to safeguard grid stability,” said Boris Wulff of the CTA Terminal Development department, who is responsible for the FRESH project at HHLA.

Digital control

Together with Next Kraftwerke, the OFFIS Institute for Information Technology in Oldenburg and the University of Göttingen, HHLA is developing within the three-year FRESH project a process and software solution for accessing the power market. It will digitally control the demands of the virtual power plant operator and smooth terminal operations.

“Capacity utilisation at the terminal determines whether AGV capacities are free. These in turn depend on such factors as ship schedules, weather and tide conditions, traffic volume and loading cycles of the AGVs,” explained Mr Wulff.

All these parameters must be included to develop reliable, efficient and, especially, automated processes. “In this way, we can predict quite precisely when and how long AGVs can dock at the electric charging stations, in order to either give or receive energy when the power grid requires it,” he added.

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