Month: June 2018

Major hydro project proposed for Loch Ness

Major hydro project proposed for Loch Ness

Details of our proposed Red John pump storage hydro project in Scotland’s Highlands were released this week with a number of outlets including the BBC and The Times picking it up.

Plans for a new 400MW pumped hydro scheme east of Loch Ness will be unveiled next week, providing new energy storage that is fundamental to Scotland’s renewable ambitions.

Storage is an essential enabler in the energy transition, allowing the Grid to store energy that cannot be absorbed naturally by consumers during times of peak wind or solar generation. Pumped storage hydro (PSH) is the cleanest energy storage technology currently available, offering the largest capacity.

The Red John scheme will see water pumped between Loch Ness and a newly created upper headpond which will use the natural topography between Loch Duntelchaig, Loch Ashie and Loch na Curra and Lochan an Eoin Ruadha, from where the development gets the Red John name.

The developer of the Red John PSH, Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) of Hamilton, says it is also keen for the community to take a stake in what could be a ‘transformational’ development.

Mark Wilson, CEO of ILI, said: “Renewable energy capacity in Scotland has more than doubled since 2007, but due to its intermittent nature there is a need to store surplus energy from sources such as wind so it can be used when we need it most.

“Pumped storage hydro is the largest and cleanest form of energy storage that currently exists – and a key enabler in helping Scotland meet its green energy ambitions.

“As well as dramatically improving our energy security, this transformational proposal is a fantastic opportunity for the community to benefit from the energy transition while helping turbo-charge Scotland’s decarbonisation efforts.”

It is anticipated that the construction phase will create between 200-300 jobs and, once complete, Red John would be able to provide 2.4GWh of storage capacity for the Grid over a six hour period.

Ofgem say a GWh is enough to power around 1million homes for an hour. This would mean Red John could power 400,000 houses for up to one hour.

Going on display at Dores Community Hall on Wednesday, June 27 between 3pm-8pm and Thursday, June 28 between 3pm-9pm, the plans would create a 100m underground power cavern with a penstock, or pipe, of 2,650m.

ILI, which says proposals for the Red John project come in response to increasing demand for energy storage, has also held preliminary discussions with the community council on community ownership, as well as establishing a community benefit scheme.

For further information about the Red John development, visit

The BBC article can be accessed here

Article in Wired magazine


Wind and solar can continue to play a major role in our energy mix

Wind and solar can continue to play a major role in our energy mix

A new report from the consultancy firm Vivid Economics in partnership with Marki Aunedi from the Imperial College engineering faculty has stated that the UK power system can decarbonise by 2030 without the requirement of new biomass, nuclear or carbon capture developments.

The report claims that wind and solar can provide more than 60% of the country’s total electricity demand by 2030 which when added to the existing nuclear and natural gas capacity would be capable of meeting overall demand.

The report also points out that 28GW of the current 100GW capacity operating today will need to be replaced by 2030 which will require infrastructure investment.  While the UK needs to further decrease power sector carbon emissions – to a level of 100g CO2/kWh – critics have expressed concern over the variable nature of renewables and to what extent a more significant concentration of renewables could impact on the functioning of transmission and distribution grids. However, Vivid’s 2030 model seeks to ease those fears, claiming that the UK could turn increasingly to wind and solar without jeopardising system reliability.

It should be noted that the report was commissioned by the Natural Defence Council who are known critics of biomass and has recently proposed a new future grid system with no biomass, new nuclear, gas or carbon capture facilities.

This system was then tested for its reliability using forecasted demand in 2020, 2025 and 2030, with four specific tests used to confirm system reliability. These included system adequacy, defined as the ability to meet demand at all times; system reserve, or whether there is enough ‘spare’ capacity to address unexpected stress events; an assessment on synchronous generation capacity to maintain system inertia above threshold levels; and a test on frequency response control capabilities.

The results of those tests concluded, according to both Vivid and Imperial College, that the UK can indeed meet system needs out to 2030 by combining both wind and solar with ‘smart resources’ with biomass removed from the grid entirely.

In addition, Vivid has said that the UK government could deliver such an energy system through a simple set of incentive mechanisms and a route to market for generation plant to provide the necessary security margin, essentially fulfilling the role of the Capacity Market.

Eric Ling, energy economist at Vivid Economics, said: “We now know wind and solar can meet most of the UK’s generation needs. This is great news given the challenges facing alternative power sources, such as biomass, nuclear and carbon capture.”

“Wind and solar, storage and demand response are now low-cost technologies, and capable of powering the electricity system in 2030. What is needed now is to ensure that markets deliver these at scale over the next decade,” Alex Kazaglis, head of energy and industry at Vivid, added.

ILI Group have long advocated that wind and solar can in the long term provide enough electricity to ensure demand is met and carbon emissions are reduced. However, this will not be possible without industrial scale storage and a renewed development programme ensuring that new projects are brought to fruition.

In order for that to happen the UK government must get on board and incentivise the industry. We are not saying that the level of subsidy offered previously is required, the cost of the developments have reduced enough for that to be no longer needed.

However certain mechanisms such as cap and floor would be highly beneficial and an easier path to planning and for grid connection would not go amiss. With these in place the additional burden on the government would be minimal but the increase in capacity and output could be significant enough to fully support our energy demands while at the same time reduce our carbon emissions to the required level.

In addition, large scale storage solutions such as pump storage hydro will help alleviate the intermittency issues that can be associated with renewable energy. These storage developments can store industrial scale capacity when the wind is blowing or sun is shining and electricity use is low, ready to export it back to the grid when demand is higher.


Combining Battery Storage with Pump Hydro

Combining Battery Storage with Pump Hydro

Bavaria in southern Germany – which already sources 43% of its energy generation from renewables – last week saw the unveiling of a new multi-million euro project consisting of a battery storage system combined with a pump storage hydro plant operated by multi-national utility Engie.

The event was attended by the Bavarian state minister for economic affairs, energy, and technology Franz Josef Pschierer and with the ongoing phase out of nuclear power across Germany, Pschierer said ensuring security of energy supply as variable renewable generation increases its penetration on the grid is vital.

“New technologies like battery storage with short reaction time complement the existing proven technologies and are a key element for the future energy system,” the minister said, adding that “our goal is to reduce CO2 [emissions] as much as possible without jeopardising our competitiveness”.

Engie Deutschland which have invested 20million euros in the site as part of a precondition that comprehensive upgrades were required for the company to continue operating pumped hydro storage at Kraftwerksgruppe Pfriemd, a power plant network of three reservoirs, one run-of-river hydro and two pumped hydro facilities.

As well as the upgrading works Engie constructed a 12.5MW battery storage system at the site. The new technology consists of almost 40,000 batteries housed in 180 racks, with each battery approximately 67kWh in capacity. Three 20kV transformers feed power into the local grid and are maintained and operated by network operator Bayernwerke AG.

The lithium storage facility including battery management system was supplied by engineering multinational Siemens, built on the company’s Siestorage containerised battery energy storage platform. The batteries will provide primary balancing services, helping to mitigate fluctuations in frequency within 30 seconds of receiving a signal from the grid, aiding the integration of variable renewable energy sources.

According to Engie, the existing pumped storage plant being fitted with batteries is itself responsible for about 5% of all balancing power delivered to Germany’s grid network and about 1% of total balancing power in Western Europe’s transmission network.

The integration of battery storage and pump storage hydro makes sense both economically and environmentally. The batteries can capture any excess energy produced by the hydro turbines and import it to the grid at times when smaller amounts are required. They are also housed within the hydro facility saving on space and helping preserve the landscape.

As renewable energy generation continues to rise throughout the world more storage facilities will be required to harness the full potential of the renewable sources. With that in mind more innovative hybrid projects will be developed which is another positive step in creating global safe, clean energy generation.

ILI Group are currently taking three pump storage hydro sites with the capability of additional battery storage through the planning system in Scotland. It is our aim to bring 1.2GW of storage capacity to the UK energy market.

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