Distribution & Storage
UK govt. asked to reconsider approach to renewable energy subsidies
Orkney Islands Council is calling for the UK Government to reconsider its approach to renewable energy subsidies following publication of “strike prices” which fall short of offering special rates for marine-based power generated on Scotland’s islands.
The Department of Energy and Climate Change consulted earlier this year on strike prices – the minimum prices developers could expect to be paid – for electricity generated from renewable sources.
The consultation included an option for a higher strike price for islands-based renewables projects – an “island uplift” – to reflect the higher costs of transmission from Scotland’s island areas.
While the strike prices announced today retain an island uplift for onshore wind projects, there is no such uplift for energy generated from wave or tidal technologies.
Convener of Orkney Islands Council, Steven Heddle, said: “We’ve invested heavily in wave and tidal infrastructure in Orkney, in anticipation of commercial-scale development.
“The Council, and others with a keen interest in maximising Orkney’s huge potential for generating energy from the seas around us, have pressed DECC on this issue over a considerable period of time. So it is highly disappointing that our calls to level the playing field for these emerging technologies seem to have been ignored.
“This latest announcement is a body blow for the timely commercial development of the wave and tidal sector in the UK, and one which destabilises the case for a vital transmission link to the mainland markets.
“It is nonsensical that one technology – onshore wind – has been granted an islands uplift, while marine-based projects have not, when transmission costs are the same regardless of the source of generation.
“Wave and tidal energy are central to the UK meeting its climate change and clean energy targets – it’s vital that strike prices reflect the added challenges of harnessing marine energy in Scotland’s islands, to ensure developers and investors are not turned back by the higher costs involved, thus losing the UK its hard won lead in this new global industry.
“We would urge the UK Government to give serious consideration to introducing and islands uplift for islands-based marine renewables, and to urgently progress grid underwriting and guarantees for island transmission links, so that the country’s greatest marine energy resources can contribute to meeting avowed national targets.”
The UK Government announcement can be found at:
Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) has connected the UK’s first large scale battery to the local electricity distribution network on Orkney. The trial project will investigate how large scale batteries could play an important role in the release of capacity on the electricity distribution network and explore how the intermittency issues affecting renewable generation could be resolved.
The two megawatt lithium ion battery has been developed by Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and will be operated by SSE Generation. It is installed at Kirkwall Power Station and builds on the innovative work already carried out by SHEPD in delivering the world’s first Active Network Management scheme in Orkney in 2009.
The battery will operate through signals sent by the existing Active Network Management scheme by absorbing and storing excess renewable energy that would otherwise be constrained from the network.Since 2009, the Active Network Management scheme has allowed a significant volume of renewable wind generation to connect to the grid at a reduced cost to renewable generators and within a shorter timescale.
The lithium ion technology used in the battery has been extensively proven at similar scale elsewhere in the world, including a similar trial run by Mitsubishi which has been continuously running for the past two years in Nagasaki, Japan, and is increasingly being used in electric vehicles in the UK. SHEPD will continue to work closely with Mitsubishi and SSE Generation throughout the duration of the trial.
SHEPD’s Head of Commercial Mark Rough said: “This exciting trial will provide valuable research into the viability of using batteries for electricity storage. This is likely to become increasingly important to help balance the variable output from renewable forms of generation as we move to a largely decarbonised electricity generation mix.”
He added: “Although the installation of the battery will not provide an immediate solution to the current constraints on the Orkney distribution network, it is hoped that in the long term the result of the studies will help demonstrate that batteries could provide a cost effective way of freeing up capacity on the network to help facilitate new connections of low carbon generation. “
Peter Clusky, Senior Manager Renewables and Head of Government Relations for Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe said, ” We are delighted to be working with our strategic partners SSE to bring this globally significant R&D project to Orkney. We are confident that this Orkney-based project will make a significant contribution to the further development of Lithium-ion battery technology. Mitsubishi is grateful for the ongoing support of SSE, NEDO, and Ofgem.”
Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth John Swinney said: “Today’s announcement by SSE reinforces that Scotland is leading the way when it comes to developing and testing new ideas that may help us meet the electricity and energy needs of the future. Smart grid technologies such as these being pioneered in Orkney are increasingly important as we move to a low-carbon economy.
“Scotland has an incredible wealth of energy resources from a range of generating technologies, capable of both meeting our energy needs and significant exports to parts of the UK and Europe. We have a responsibility to make sure our nation seizes this opportunity.”
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur welcomed today’s announcement. He said: “This is an exciting initiative and I am delighted to see Orkney leading the way in the development of energy storage options. “Our islands have huge potential for generating renewable energy, but a lack of sufficient grid capacity is a growing problem. The active network management system has freed up capacity to allow many local projects to be connected to the grid in recent years, but new solutions now need to be found if Orkney is to realise its full potential in renewables. “I am certain that battery storage has an important role to play in ensuring we make best use of the resources at our disposal. While it is not a short term solution, the work being undertaken as part of this initiative could deliver significant and long-lasting benefits to Orkney and more widely.”
The trial of the battery is being funded by Ofgem’s Low Carbon Networks Fund which supports projects by electricity distribution network operators to try out new technology, operating and commercial arrangements. The Orkney battery will help to provide an understanding of how batteries can support distribution networks.
A report by energy regulator Ofgem has today warned that the gap between installed capacity and electricity demand could fall to just 2% in coming years. The report also warns that the risk of blackouts from lack of supply has increased since their last report and could reach a one in every four years if reductions in demand are not achieved, compared to the current level of once in ever forty seven years currently.
With Scotland currently exporting 26% of electricity generated, the key role played by Scotland in keeping the rest of the UK’s lights on will become even more important in years ahead as the capacity gap narrows. This reliance on Scottish electricity effectively undermines claims by anti-independence politicians that the rest of the UK would not want to purchase electricity from an independent Scotland, as the risk of blackouts in the rest of the UK would increase significantly without electricity crossing the border.
Commenting, SNP MSP Chic Brodie who sits on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee said:
“This paper has revealed just how tight the gap between electricity capacity and demand is set to become and makes a mockery of claims that the rest of the UK would not continue to buy electricity produced in Scotland after a Yes vote. The energy resources that Scotland is home to are absolutely essential to keeping the lights on in the rest of the UK and this report from Ofgem shows why they will only become ever more vital in the years ahead.”
“It blows a major hole in some of the more outlandish scaremongering we have heard from anti-independence politicians when it comes to energy, and has severely undermined their credibility.
“The fact is that the rest of the UK needs Scotland’s electricity and that will still be the case after a Yes vote in next year’s referendum. Maintaining a shared energy market between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK is simply good sense for everyone concerned.
“Scotland’s rapidly growing renewable energy supply is absolutely integral to maintaining a secure supply of electricity south of the border and today’s report means that fact is indisputable.”
Further details of Ofgem’s warning can be viewed at
Power Networks Demonstration Centre at University of Strathclyde
The centre, the first of its kind in Europe, has been established in response to growing demands for secure, reliable and environmentally-friendly electricity across the globe.
The PNDC aims to accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies and convert ideas and research into low carbon solutions for the electricity industry of the future.
The world-class centre is home to researchers, engineers and industry specialists who are developing new research and technologies, from advanced grid control schemes to intelligent sensor systems, in the facility’s controlled and safe environment.
The 900-square-metre building is equipped with high quality, innovative control and simulations systems and is home to a real-life, reconfigurable power network independent from the national grid.
Located in Cumbernauld near Glasgow, the PNDC is a venture between the University of Strathclyde, ScottishPower Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.
Smart grid technologies are increasingly important as Scotland moves to a low-carbon economy, helping to reduce energy waste and making it easier for homes and businesses to generate their own renewable energy. This innovative research centre puts Scotland at the forefront of smart electrical technologies and setting new standards in electrical distribution.
Norwegian state involvement could jeapordise NorthConnect project
It seems that a proposal being put forward in Oslo to put the state-controlled grid operator Statnett in charge of all Norwegian interconnector projects could potentially stall or finish off the development of a North Sea HVDC interconnector between Scotland and Norway.
While Statnett currently has no interest in NorthConnect it does have a stake in other interconnector projects, including the North Sea Network (NSN) joint venture with National Grid. This project proposed to build an interconnector line between Northumberland and Western Norway, which would bypass Scotland and could damage the country’s hopes of being a major renewable energy exporter in the future.
This warning was given by Ødd Oygarden, who is the chairman of NorthConnect, the consortium behind the project. Oygarden said: “We will have to see what will happen with the Norwegian government’s proposition. If it goes ahead – You can take it that [cancelling the NorthConnect project] might be a possible development. The government suggesting that there should be a near-monopolistic situation with interconnectors is not what we want as a background for reaching agreements.”
This is the second bit of bad news for the project this month after it emerged that SSE, a major partner with a 25% in the consortium, was withdrawing to concentrate on other business. It cited a ‘lack of clarity on the regulatory regime around interconnectors’ for its decision to withdraw. The NOrwegian government has done little to promote such clarity with its somewhat opaque statement that “Grid investments shall be conducted if they are socio-economically profitable. This includes new interconnectors.”