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Scotland’s Energy Security

Scotland’s Energy Security

A new report from the Institution of Engineers in Scotland (IESIS) has claimed that a massive gap in the electricity system caused by the closure of coal-fired power stations and growth of unpredictable renewable generation has created the real prospect of complete power failure which could lead to sustained black-outs and power outages.

They go on to say that longer periods with no power could lead to “deaths, severe societal and industrial disruption, civil disturbance and loss of production”.

The organisation always warns that the loss of carbon heavy power generating stations such as Longannet – which closed two years ago – means that having to restore electricity in a “black start” situation – following a complete loss of power – would take several days.

Although the threat of civil disturbance does seem like a stretch of the imagination the report points to power losses of several days in other countries leading to this type of situation and warns “A lengthy delay would have severe negative consequences – the supply of food, water, heat, money, petrol would be compromised; there would be limited communications. The situation would be nightmarish.”

The Institute concludes its report by calling on the Scottish and UK Governments to radically change how the electricity system is governed, with the creation of a new national energy authority with specific responsibility for safeguarding its long-term sustainability and avoiding blackouts.

With Scottish Power becoming the first major energy provider to switch to 100% green energy production by selling its remaining fossil fuel production plants earlier this year and the scheduled closure of nuclear power plant Hunterston B in 2023 it is feared that the increased reliance on renewable energy generation could lead to intermittent losses.

This could be exasperated with an increase on energy demand due to a sharp increase in electric vehicles and rises in domestic heat coming from electricity as opposed to gas.

Iain MacLeod, of the IESIS, said: “The electricity system was designed with generation coming mainly from coal and nuclear energy. However, as we change generation sources to include intermittent renewables, we must review how the system works with these new inputs. The risks involved when introducing new sources of generation need to be controlled. Intermittent renewable energy sources do not supply the same level of functionality as power stations to meet demand at all times and avoid operational faults. Intermittency issues … relevant to wind and solar energy have not been adequately explored.”

The Institute’s report, Engineering for Energy: A Proposal for Governance of the Energy System, which it plans to take to the Scottish and UK governments argues that Longannet was closed “well before assessments of the impact of its closure had been completed” and adds that transmission is now being upgraded “before detailed decisions about the siting of generation facilities have been made.”

In addition, integrating new energy sources to the current network could lead to an increase in cost to the consumer with the report adding “The extra generation and storage needed to safeguard security of supply, the facilities required to ensure it is stable, extra transmission facilities, and energy losses over power lines from remote locations will all contribute to rising costs.”

SP Energy Networks, which owns and maintains the transmission network in central and southern Scotland, say: “The resilience of the system, and the ability to deliver an efficient and timely Black Start restoration, minimising the social and economic aspects of such an event, continue to be areas of particular focus.”

Alexander Burnett, Scottish Conservative energy spokesman said: “No-one disputes the need for Scotland, and everywhere else, to move towards cleaner generation of energy. But this has to be done in a sustainable way which ensures there are no blackouts and enough power to meet the needs of the country”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While electricity policy is reserved to the UK Government, we are working closely with National Grid and the Scottish network companies to ensure that Scotland has a secure and stable supply of electricity.  Renewable generation now plays substantial role in meeting electricity demand across Scotland and reducing the carbon intensity of the electricity that we generate. Our energy strategy highlights the need to plan and deliver a secure, flexible and resilient electricity system.”

Prior to the closure of the coal and gas plants in Scotland we were a net exporter of energy to the rest of the UK and beyond. However, this has since changed and we need the security of a potential 1.6GW or power which can be imported from England at any given time. Due to the nature of our renewable energy production this can fluctuate on a daily or even an hourly basis. A windy morning for example could lead to an excess of energy but a calm afternoon could mean having to import. This is happening on a more regular basis over the past year.

We believe that a solution to this issue already exists and can implemented relatively quickly. Intermittent energy production requires industrial scale storage to ensure that it can meet the demand required throughout the daily peaks and troughs. And while battery storage can certainly help with this the amount required to be able to handle the highest demand scenarios would mean acres and acres of battery storage units.

Pump storage hydro however can meet this gap and give us the energy security that the Institute’s report seeks. At ILI Energy we are currently planning on developing three individual plants in different locations which will have the potential to store and generate 1.6GW of power. In addition, they will use excess renewable energy – when production is in surplus – to flow the water back to the top pond making it fully renewable.

We are currently at the planning stage with these three projects with two in consultation and one being submitted for planning approval earlier this month. For information on this project and details on the planning submission please go to the project website http://www.redjohnpsh.co.uk/

 

Rural Scotland supports new onshore wind developments

Rural Scotland supports new onshore wind developments

In the wake of the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report last week the focus on what can be done to remedy  the situation has intensified. Carbon emissions must be reduced – and even reversed – on both macro and micro levels with everybody contributing, from governments to corporations to individuals.

The best place to start is with our energy generation with carbon intense fossil fuels still producing vast amounts of energy and in turn adding vast amounts of carbon to our atmosphere.

Over the past 25 years the move to renewable energy generation has increased with a particular sharp rise in the past ten years which has led the UK to be able to generate approximately 25% of its electricity demand via renewable low carbon sources.

However, things could be – and should be – better, much better. Scotland has an abundance of renewable sources and in particular, is the windiest country in Europe however we lag significantly behind our European neighbours when it comes to generating electricity via wind turbines.

In 2015 the new UK Government vastly reduced all subsidies for new onshore wind development, with all support due to end in April 2019, bringing to a halt a blossoming industry which was well on its way to having the capacity to generate 50% of our electricity.

A number of reasons were given at the time including cost, intermittency, and low public approval, particularly in areas where turbines are situated. Since then however the cost of onshore wind developments has reduced dramatically and intermittency issues can be resolved using modern storage methods including pump storage hydro and industrial batteries.

This week the results of an independent survey carried out by Survation and commissioned by Scottish Renewables showed that those living in rural Scotland – and most likely to find themselves living close to renewable developments – were generally in favour of the use of onshore wind with 66% supporting it, 22% saying they have no opinion or don’t know and only 11% opposed to new onshore wind farms.

It wasn’t just onshore wind that got the rural seal of approval with solar power (83% support), wave and tidal energy (83% support), offshore wind energy (78% support) and biomass (69% support) all receiving support well above 50%.

Contrasting that, support for building new fossil fuel (coal, gas or oil) power stations or extending the life of existing garnered only 42% with fracking at just 31%.

Jenny Hogan, Deputy Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said: “This latest poll was focussed, for the first time ever, on discovering what Scots in rural areas think about renewables like wind and solar power.

“The nature of Scotland’s renewable energy resource – our wind, tides, forestry and even our long summer evenings, among others – means many renewable energy developments take place in rural areas, providing jobs and economic opportunities which otherwise may not have existed.

“This independent polling shows that not only do rural Scots support the development of renewables, but that their opposition to policies which promote extracting and burning fossil fuels is unmistakeable.

“The fact is that the continued deployment of clean power technologies like wind, solar and biomass is backed by the very people who will benefit most tangibly from these developments.”

Gina Hanrahan, WWF Head of Policy, said: “Not only is onshore wind the cheapest form of new energy, this poll shows it’s also one of the most popular, alongside solar, wave and tidal.

“Just last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sent a clarion call to all nations to act urgently and decisively to bring emissions down, and embracing renewables is one of the best ways of doing this.

“This poll is just another nail in the coffin for the myth that renewables are unpopular, and instead shows that people recognise the economic, social and environmental benefits harnessing our renewable potential can bring to Scotland’s rural areas.”

It comes as no surprise to us at ILI Energy that onshore wind remains popular with rural Scots. We developed a number of onshore wind turbines in various rural areas throughout the country and the response was mainly positive.

Locals could see the economic benefits such developments brought to their area and were onboard with the environmental benefits they brought everyone.

In 2018 there is no reason not to re-establish the onshore wind industry with the introduction of new developments throughout the country. It is the least expensive form of new build power generation, excess energy can be stored for use at peak times, and it has widespread public approval.

The Climate Change report released last week was unequivocal, we must reduce our carbon emissions dramatically and immediately. New onshore wind developments isn’t the answer on its own but it could be, with the right backing, one of the biggest contributors to achieving carbon neutrality.

 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

Major tremors rippled throughout the worlds of science and the environment this week with the publication of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global warming and its effects.

The report which had initially set the target of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius now claims that we are completely off track instead heading towards an increase of 3C. The report also confirms that keeping the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The research behind the report took three years to compile and final summary, drawn up by both scientists and lawmakers, bares the tell-tale signs of inevitable compromise. That said there are still key points which do not paint a rosy future for our environment without many changes needed to be implemented.

“The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways,” said Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC.

“The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C – changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.”

“Scientists might want to write in capital letters, ‘ACT NOW, IDIOTS,’ but they need to say that with facts and numbers,” said Kaisa Kosonen, of Greenpeace, who was an observer at the negotiations. “And they have.”

The facts and figures show a planet demonstrating dangerous environmental behaviour, all caused by humans. In the past a potential rise of 2C was seen as manageable but the report is now claiming this will be much more difficult. Even a rise of 1.5C is risking the planet’s long-term liveability however the report also states that staying below it is possible.

This will require governments to make massive changes involving large-scale investment, approximately 2.5% of every country’s GDP every year. In addition, it would require an explosion of trees and plants to capture carbon as well as mechanical carbon capture solutions which would have to store the greenhouse gas underground forever.

This means annual average investments into our energy systems of around $2.4 trillion until 2035.

“There are costs and benefits you have to weigh up,” said Dr Stephen Cornelius, a former UK IPCC negotiator now with WWF.

“The report also talks about the benefits as there is higher economic growth at 1.5 degrees than there is at 2C and you don’t have the higher risk of catastrophic impacts at 1.5 that you do at two.”

In the past these dangerous scenarios have been, or at least have seemed to have been, in the distant future but this is no longer the case. The hazardous impacts are now predicted to begin to occur within our lifetime. Because of this we can no longer delay the difficult decisions which can out us back on the right track.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that we do not have much time. If we do not act soon we will have to rely on even more unproven technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

“They really need to start work immediately. The report is clear that if governments just fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, it is not good enough. It will make it very difficult to consider global warming of 1.5C,” said Prof Jim Skea.

“If they read the report and decide to increase their ambitions and act more immediately, then 1.5C stays within reach – that’s the nature of the choice they face.”

Campaigners and environmentalists, who have welcomed the report, say there is simply no time left for debate.

“This is the moment where we need to decide” said Kaisa Kosonen. “We want to move to clean energy, sustainable lifestyles. We want to protect our forests and species. This is the moment that we will remember; this is the year when the turning point happened.”

We at ILI think the findings in this report and the consequences of climate change are truly frightening.  However, in Scotland we have an abundance of solutions – onshore wind, offshore wind, solar and batteries.  However, Pumped Storage hydro which has a long history in Scotland dating as far back as 1959, is not in our opinion, currently receiving sufficient attention

It is very clear that Energy Storage has to play an important part to ensure all the surplus energy from wind and solar is not wasted.  We believe that Pumped Storage Hydro makes the most sense as it is a proven technology that can store massive amounts of energy and can remain in use for the next hundred years. We have found the Scottish Government genuinely supportive for all Renewable technologies.  What we now need is for the UK Government to ensure that the market does not discriminate against this Pump Storage Hydro technology.

Our concern is the general public have no idea that there is a proven technology available that can be married to wind and solar to help solve our energy needs and mitigate the need to build any type of carbon intensive assets. Our thinking is that as it was the UK who started the industrial revolution, so we should be at the forefront of making positive changes.  We have the natural resources in this country to make a real difference and stand out as a global leader in Renewables.  Pump Storage Hydro should not be overlooked.

 

Pump Storage Hydro at the Hoover Dam

Pump Storage Hydro at the Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam, one of the most iconic structures in the USA, could be converted into a pumped storage hydro project according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The project which would cost upwards of $3 billion would install a pumping station approximately 20 miles downstream from the existing dam and would use solar and wind resources to move the water back up to Lake Mead.

With a capacity of 2080MW the Hoover Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric plants in the USA and being located 25miles from the Las Vegas Strip it is within close proximity of one of the country‘s largest electric power markets. The dam however only runs at approximately 20% of its capacity due to a number of reasons including water management issues and drought related low water levels.

LADWP’s plan aims to make better use of the Hoover Dam facility by using it as part of a pumped hydro storage plant. Most pumped hydro plants pump water into a holding reservoir when demand is slack and electricity prices are low. The water is released through turbines to generate power when demand, and prices, rise.

Although LADWP’s plan has enormous potential, it’s still in its early stages. “We are doing some initial assessments and engineering assessments,” said Sam Mannan, a project manager at LADWP.

Although the majority of pump storage hydro facilities house both the energy generating turbines and the pumping station at the same location this project, should it come to fruition, would use an external pumping station at site not yet determined, approximately 20 miles from the dam, powered by wind turbines and solar generation facilities.

The project would therefore work on two levels, one to generate on demand electric energy which can be added to grid as and when required, and secondly to help LADWP, and California, manage the growing amount of renewable energy on its grid. The state has a goal of meeting 50% of its electrical needs with renewable resources by 2030. That goal comes with challenges, however. Often more solar power is generated during the middle of the day than is needed. When the sun goes down, it leaves a gap that has to be quickly filled by other generation sources, often gas-fired peaking plants.

A renewables-driven pumped storage plant could absorb excess renewable energy and store it as impounded water until demand rises. Then, the water is released and run through turbines to generate power.

There is still much to be determined before the project can be launched but the LADWP are confident that when ready it will be a successful addition to the country’s pump storage portfolio.

At ILI Energy we believe that pump storage hydro aligned with renewable energy installations will play a huge role in future peak demand electricity generation. It makes perfect sense, at times of low demand renewable energy can be used to pump the water to the higher of the two water sources and then when required at high peak times, can quickly provide large quantities of electricity to the grid.

Using existing infrastructure such as the Hoover dam will help reduce costs as well continue to use installations, which through no fault of their own, can no longer provide the high levels of energy required

The Balancing Mechanism

The Balancing Mechanism

The Balancing Mechanism (BM) is one of the tools used by National Grid to balance electricity supply and demand close to real time. Electricity cannot currently be stored at scale and must be manufactured at the time of demand and so it is becoming increasingly important for the success of the transition to more flexible, renewable sources of energy.  Where National Grid predicts that there will be a discrepancy between electricity production and demand during a certain time period, they may accept a ‘bid’ or ‘offer’ from a Market Participant to either increase or decrease generation (or consumption).

In today’s market the Balancing Mechanism is used around 3,000 times each day, at a cost of £350 million a year.  With the renewable energy sector continuing at a pace, and the associated volatility this creates in the system, we know that this market is just going to keep growing.

Headline figures of £2,500/MWh certainly catch people’s eye, especially when compared with £50/MWh in wholesale markets.  While this happens only rarely it is not uncommon for the price to sit above £100/MWh for a lot of the time, as it has done around a third of the time over the last two years.

When it was established, BM was expected to balance 2% of the market in 2001.  On an average day in 2018 it is being used to balance 5% of electricity, and National Grid have even been known to use the Balancing Mechanism to reposition over 50% of the market.  There is clearly an opportunity here for our PSH projects.

Currently the market has been dominated by the big 6 energy companies, whoever this month a company called Limejump has been admitted into the Balancing Mechanism using a virtual Power Plant making it the first company to use an ‘aggregated’ BM unit (BMU) in the market.  They currently have three aggregated units with a total of 178MW available.   The company expects to operate up to 600MW+ as the business develops and grows.

Limejump have 150MW of batteries and other demand response assets within its managed portfolio, and sees their entry into the BM as an opportunity to compete with the big six energy suppliers and other large power plants in this £1 billion a year market.  We believe that our PSH projects will benefit massively from this evolving market, and will be attractive to a great many aggregate operators and anyone else hoping to challenge the dominance of the big six.

This all coincides with a need for the National Grid to change the way it procures for Black Start services.  Indeed, National Grid are keen to migrate to a competitive process that allows for a more diverse range of technologies into the mix.

Cathy McClay, head of commercial electricity at National Grid writes, “The world of energy is changing around us; as our industry moves towards a low carbon future, this presents us with challenges.  Fewer traditional providers of system restoration services, also known as Black Start services, are now available to us…. This calls for us to look at the future approach to Black Start.”

As coal has been pushed off the grid by a combination of policy and cheaper renewable energy sources the National Grid has sought to rethink its Black Start Strategy.  One problem currently is that the conventional power stations that make up the largest portion of the current framework cause problems simply due to the time it can take them to power up.  Our PSH projects can power up almost instantly, only a fraction slower than batteries but on a significantly larger scale.  As these projects are still in the planning stage National Grid has not yet taken these into account but has planned for different technologies to be capable of providing Black Start at different stages, starting with interconnectors.

At ILI we think it makes more sense to use our own natural assets in this country and that is why we are promoting the benefits of UK based Pump Storage Hydro.

UK Offshore Generation Capacity Set To Double

UK Offshore Generation Capacity Set To Double

A new Government initiative launched last week is set to double the UK’s offshore capacity over the next ten years. If this does come to pass, then between 20% and 30% of the UK’s electricity will come from offshore wind generation. This is partly due to vastly reduced development costs making offshore wind an increasingly affordable source of clean energy.

In addition, the Government has set up auctions in which developers bid for Government financial support which aids in reducing costs passing savings to consumers. Claire Perry, the Climate and Energy Secretary confirmed that the auctions would be held every two years and would give the industry the stability required to continue to invest in the infrastructure.

RenewableUK’s chief executive, Hugh McNeal, said: “This sets us on the path to deliver the tens of billions of pounds of investment that will be needed to meet our ambition of at least 30GW by 2030.

“We can look forward to a pipeline of new offshore wind projects that will support tens of thousands of jobs across the UK.”

The auctions confirm the amount of support each individual project will require meaning that the cost of supporting them has halved over the past five years and has been deemed such a success that similar systems have been adopted worldwide by other governments.

Environmental groups have cautiously welcomed the new initiative but with the continued falling cost of both offshore and onshore wind generation questioned why the government was still committed to spending vast amounts of funds on nuclear generation.

Kate Blagojevic from Greenpeace said: “Onshore wind is also getting cheaper all the time, and is now the UK’s cheapest electricity source.

“Solar has been dropping for so long that it has actually reduced in cost by an astonishing 99% since the technology was commercialised.

“This makes the government’s huge financial support for nuclear, the one low carbon source which keeps going up and up in price, all the more confusing and irrational.”

The UK government confirmed that a wide range of energy generation sources are required for a stable energy mix.

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.

At ILI Energy we agree that a diverse energy mix is required however with world heating up and carbon emissions reductions legally required our focus should be on renewables with wind – both onshore and offshore – and solar generating the most.

As mentioned above, costs are reducing. In addition, the technology is now more efficient meaning more energy can be generated from each installation. There does however remain the issue of intermittency and although the grid can cope with this up to a certain point should we increase our renewable production levels substantially industrial scale storage will be required.

This is where large scale storage solutions such as pump storage hydro can make a real difference to our carbon emissions. Wind turbines can generate at any time, whether the energy is required or not and if not, it can be stored for use at times of peak demand. This in turn will lead to less reliance on the more traditional – but high carbon producing – short term demand solutions such as gas.

It’s been clear for some time now that storage solutions are necessary for us to take full advantage of our renewable resources and with the right support it can be the backbone of our low carbon energy generation mix.

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 www.redjohnpsh.co.uk.

The BBC article can be accessed here https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-highlands-islands-44560894

Article in Wired magazine http://www.wired.co.uk/article/scotland-renewable-energy-loch-ness-hydro-pump-storage

 

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.

Scotland’s new offshore capabilities

Scotland’s new offshore capabilities

Crown Estates Scotland has published a paper which includes a draft leasing process to encourage new offshore wind farms in Scotland’s waters claiming that it is necessary to ensure new projects are built from to second half of the 2020s and beyond. The estate says it aims to support innovation, create jobs and stimulate economic growth with any money that it raises from offshore renewables being passed to the Scottish government for public spending.

Two offshore wind farms – Robin Rigg and Hywind Scotland – are already operating in Scottish waters. A further two are being built – the Beatrice project in the Moray Firth and the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, off Aberdeen.

However, it can take up to ten years to develop and construct a new offshore wind project, meaning that new projects from the 2020s onwards have to be planned now.

John Robertson, senior energy and infrastructure manager at Crown Estate Scotland, said: “Using our seas to power Scotland is an important part of our economic and environmental well-being.

“To provide affordable, secure and clean energy, Scotland must continue to sustainably use its natural resources and grow the offshore wind sector.”

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish environment secretary, welcomed the publication of the Crown Estate Scotland’s document.

“The potential benefits of offshore renewable energy to Scotland are enormous,” she said.

“That is why it is important that Crown Estate Scotland makes available the right seabed locations at the right time, in order to contribute to delivery of our energy strategy, attract inward investment, develop new technology and continue to drive down the associated costs of offshore energy.”

The UK government’s energy minister, Claire Perry, said 15% of UK electricity came from wind last year – up from 3% in 2010.

“As technology costs come down, this will enable renewables to flourish,” she added. “The opening up of more seabed areas for new offshore wind projects is another step towards achieving our low cost, low carbon future.”

The move was also welcomed by industry body Scottish Renewables.

Its senior policy manager, Fabrice Leveque, said: “The offshore wind projects which are currently being developed in Scotland are already providing enormous economic benefits to our country.

“The Beatrice scheme in the Moray Firth, for example, will deliver up to £1.2bn into the UK and Scottish economy via employment and supply chain opportunities during its lifetime.

“Crown Estate Scotland’s proposals set the tone for the future of this vibrant sector. New sites would allow us to capture more of our offshore wind resource and enable Scotland’s burgeoning offshore wind supply chain to gear up and grow, delivering jobs and investment not just on our coasts, but across the country.”

With high wind speeds and new technology such as floating wind turbines now available it makes sense for the Crown Estates to open up Scotland’s offshore to new renewable energy projects.

The continued development of new renewable energy projects will help decrease our carbon emissions and achieve our reduction targets.

Despite offshore wind power being traditionally more expensive than onshore as the technology has become more widespread the cost has been coming down. At the same time the efficiency of the developments has increased dramatically and, as mentioned above, new ideas and concepts have come to the fore.

In Scotland our renewable energy resources are plentiful and it would be wrong not to utilise them to the best of our ability. New offshore wind developments will help harness some of these resources which benefits everyone.

 

 

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