A power-to-heat system operated by Swiss energy firm Alpiq is now operational, the company announced this week.

The $6m, 22 MW system in Niedergösgen, in the canton of Solothurn, was begun in October 2016 and commissioned in mid-April. It features two 11 MW electrode boilers which generate process steam.

Located on the site of Alpiq’s 51 MW Gösgen run-of-river hydropower plant, the system will supply process steam to the nearby Model AG paper factory during the annual inspection of the 1020 MW Gösgen nuclear power plant, from which the factory normally receives its steam. The steam from the power-to-heat system will be fed through an existing underground steam network.

According to Alpiq, the primary function of the new system will be to offer negative balancing energy on the ancillary services market.

In a statement, the company said: “With the increase of fluctuating power from wind turbines and photovoltaic systems, the balancing function has become an increasingly demanding task for grid operators. Power to heat technology is a flexible and efficient solution for balancing capacity.

“Alpiq is taking advantage of these benefits and pursuing its strategy of applying innovative approaches to seize new business opportunities on the energy markets.”