Batteries: a hot topic in the energy transition

Nadina Baghina, Energy Storage Expert at Eneco

Over the past seven years, Nadina Baghina has developed into the leading Energy Storage Expert at Eneco. Her field of expertise? Battery storage systems that can supply power to more than 20,000 households. “This is the next step in the energy transition.”

My mission has always been to contribute to a more sustainable future. So it was no surprise that I ended up at Eneco after my studies in Sustainable Energy Technology at TU/e. For the past seven years, I’ve worked within the Storage domain. I’ve had several roles in engineering and operations, but now I focus on the commercial side and develop enormous battery systems that can store sustainably generated energy from windmills and solar parks for a while.

Dealing with peaks and troughs

Years ago, we put a lot of effort into building wind and solar parks. But the energy those assets produce is much less predictable than fossil energy, and it displays more peaks and troughs. So we need a buffer to deal with those fluctuations. A battery is ideal for that, because it can store electricity for several hours. The systems we develop have a capacity of at least 50 megawatts and 3 or 4 hours of depth. That allows us to power more than 20,000 households. We wouldn’t waste our time for less. In fact, we eventually want to get to projects with more than 100 megawatts.

The battery is everything

Batteries are hot everywhere right now. Power plants that run on coal or nuclear energy have to close in order to meet sustainability goals. The United States, for example, is replacing those old plants with big batteries, instead of converting them to run on natural gas. The United Kingdom has also come a long way with the technology. On the European mainland, Eneco leads the way with a large system in Germany and another one on the way in Belgium. There’s something planned for the Netherlands too, but I can’t say too much about that at the moment.

From idea to signature

Developing a new battery project is a complex and expensive job. It involves investments of more than € 100 million, and it takes two years before the system is operational. That requires a big dose of responsibility, entrepreneurship and flexibility. But that’s exactly what I enjoy about my work. I help brainstorm about the optimal dimensions for the battery system, the best contract terms and a good location. I also arrange the permits, coordinate with stakeholders, arrange the connection with a electricity network operator, and I have intensive contact with the battery suppliers via a tendering procedure we organise.

And in between, I also naturally coordinate with all sorts of internal business units, from Trade to Strategy. Moreover, I work a lot together with our colleagues in Belgium and Germany.

Our goal is to build an interesting and profitable business case, for the Board of Directors to give it a go. Then the Realisation team takes over the project, and they make sure the system gets built. But I stay involved from the sidelines, because I have trouble letting go.

All hands on deck

Over the next few years we’ll be adding many more battery storage systems. By 2030, we’ll need around 10 gigawatts in batteries in the Netherlands. At the moment there are only 0.3 gigawatts available, so it’s all hands on deck right now. That’s why Eneco is searching for reinforcements for me, to keep putting out these kinds of challenging projects in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. I’m our only Storage Expert in the Netherlands right now. It would be great to work in a team, so that we can really speed up the construction of battery systems. Now is the moment, because batteries are a hot topic in the energy transition. Eneco is investing a lot into them, so there are plenty of opportunities. If you’re a go-getter, love your freedom and have a passion for sustainability, then this is your chance.

Will you be my new colleague?

I’ll be going on leave in a few weeks, because I’m expecting my second child. But as I said: I have trouble letting go. So I’ll really miss my work, because it’s so fun and interesting.

My colleagues are also great. Committed, ambitious and positive. That’s really characteristic for Eneco. I secretly hope that before I go on leave we’ll have a new colleague in the starting blocks, who can take over my position with the same passion and commitment. Take a look at the job opening, and maybe we’ll be meeting soon!

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