Scottish company behind Pumped Storage Hydro projects claims ‘blackouts’ will be the new norm without major rethink by National Grid and investment in energy storage infrastructure
Last Friday saw a major power outage across the UK leaving nearly a million homes without electricity and travel disruption across the rail network.
The incident was triggered by failures at two large generators, specifically Orsted’s 1.2GW Hornsea offshore wind farm and the 727MW Little Barford gas-fired power station in Bedfordshire, operated by RWE. Those failures caused the GB power grid’s frequency to drop to 48.9Hz, far below the 49.5Hz threshold, causing the power cuts experienced by consumers.
Mark Wilson CEO of ILI Group said, “National Grid have described this as an “incredibly rare” event however blackouts have been predicted for years. Last year the Institute of engineers in Scotland (IESIS) predicted just such events would happen”
“As we increase reliance on intermittent renewable power sources such events could become the new norm. National Grid are supposed to have enough back up generators they can call on quickly for these frequency events, whether its battery generators, pumped storage hydro, or more conventional thermal generators.
“Its clear going forward a greater capacity of these fast frequency response services will need to be available.
“Pumped storage hydro (PSH) is ideally suited to provide the fast, large scale, response to mitigate such events, and more PSH capacity will mean the risk of power cuts and disruption will be reduced”
Pumped Storage Hydro allows the Grid to store energy that cannot be absorbed naturally by consumers during times of peak wind or solar generation. It does this by using this energy to pump water from a lower reservoir to a top reservoir. Here the water can be held until times of demand where it is released to the lower reservoir through turbines generating electricity like a conventional hydro plant, this process can be repeated as required.
Former UK Energy Minister, Brian Wilson said, “One way or another, there has to be back-up to the intermittency of renewable generation, and this creates a huge opportunity for UK industry. In Scotland, Pumped Storage Hydro – which provides 95 per cent of storage around the world – is the obvious answer instead of relying on imports via interconnectors.
“Hydro power has served Scotland exceptionally well in the past and can do so for many years to come. This is an opportunity to give an established technology a new lease of life with huge potential benefits for the Scottish economy while at the same time helping to solve the inescapable challenges posed by reliance on renewable generation”.
ILI Group have over 2GW of Pump-storage Hydro in the pipeline with their first 450MW development Red John at Loch Ness currently in planning.