The Anonymous Widower

New Electricity ‘Superhighways’ Needed To Cope With Surge In Wind Power

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the Telegraph.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Energy companies are pushing for the rapid approval of new electricity “superhighways” between Scotland and England amid fears that a lack of capacity will set back the country’s wind power revolution.

Businesses including SSE and Scottish Power are calling on the industry regulator Ofgem to approve a series of major new north-south power cables in a bid to ease congestion on the existing electricity network.

These points are mentioned in the article.

  • Current capacity is 6 GW, which even now is not enough.
  • Another 17 GW of capacity will be needed by 2033.
  • Wind farms in Scotland have been switched off and replaced by gas-fired power stations because of a lack of grid capacity.
  • Another 25 GW of wind farms could be built after leases were awarded last month.

Two North-South interconnectors are being planned.

Peterhead And Drax

This is being proposed by SSE and National Grid.

  • It will be an undersea cable.
  • It will be two cables, each with a capacity of 2 GW.
  • Peterhead and Drax power station are four hundred miles apart by road and 279 miles as the seagull flies, as a lot of the route would be over the sea. So an undersea connection would appear to be sensible.
  • Peterhead is on the coast, so connecting an undersea interconnector shouldn’t be too challenging or disruptive to the locals.
  • Drax power station is a 4 GW power station and the largest in the UK, so it must have good grid connections.

This Google Map shows the location of Drax power station in relation to Hull, Scunthorpe and the rivers in the area.

Note.

  1. Drax is marked by the red arrow in the West of the map.
  2. The large body of water in the East is the Humber Estuary.
  3. Hull is on the North Bank of the Humber.
  4. Scunthorpe, which is famous for its steel industry is South of the Humber in the middle of the map.
  5. To the West of Scunthorpe the Humber splits into the Trent and the Ouse.
  6. The Ouse leads all the way to Drax power station.

I suspect an undersea cable could go up the Humber and Ouse to Drax power station.

Is it a coincidence that both Drax power station and the proposed link to Peterhead are both around 4 GW?

Consider.

  • Drax is a biomass power station, so it is not a zero carbon power station.
  • Drax produces around six percent of the UK’s electricity.
  • Most of the biomass comes by ship from North America.
  • Protest groups regularly have protests at Drax because of its carbon emissions.
  • Drax Group are experimenting with carbon capture.
  • Drax is a big site and a large energy storage system could be built there.
  • Wind is often criticised by opponents, saying wind is useless when the wind doesn’t blow.
  • The Scots would be unlikely to send power to England, if they were short.

This is also said about Drax in Wikipedia.

Despite this intent for baseload operation, it was designed with a reasonable ability for load-following, being able to ramp up or down by 5% of full power per minute within the range of 50–100% of full power.

I take this it means it can be used to top up electricity generation to meet demand. Add in energy storage and it could be a superb load-follower.

So could the similar size of the interconnector and Drax power station be deliberate to guarantee England a 4 GW feed at all states of the wind?

I don’t think it is a coincidence.

Torness And Hawthorn Pit And Torness and South Humberside

These two cables are being proposed by Scottish Power.

  • Each will be two GW.
  • Torness is the site of the 1.36 GW Torness nuclear power station, which is likely to be decommissioned before 2030.
  • Torness will have good grid connections and it is close to the sea.
  • Hawthorn Pit is a large closed coal mine to the North of Newcastle, with a large substation close to the site. I suspect it will be an ideal place to feed power into the grid for Newcastle and it is close to the sea.
  • Just South of Hawthorn Pit are the 1.32 GW Hartlepool nuclear power station, which will be decommissioned in 2024 and the landfall of the cables to the massive Dogger Bank wind farm.
  • As I showed earlier with Drax, the Humber would be an ideal estuary to bring underwater power cables into the surrounding area. So perhaps the cable will go to Scunthorpe for the steelworks.
  • As at Drax, there is backup in South Humberside, but here it is from the two Keadby gas-fired power stations.

The article in the Telegraph only gives the briefest of details of Scottish Power’s plans, but I suspect, that given the locations of the ends of the interconnectors, I suspect the cables will be underwater.

Conclusion

It strikes me that all three interconnectors have been well thought thought and they serve a variety of objectives.

  • Bring Scottish wind power, South to England.
  • Connect wind farms to the two nuclear power station sites at Hartlepool and Torness, that will close at the end of the decade.
  • Allow the big 4 GW biomass-fired station at Drax to back up wind farms and step in when needed.
  • Cut carbon emissions at Drax.
  • Use underwater cables as much as possible to transfer the power, to avoid the disruption of digging in underground cables.

It looks to be a good plan.

February 13, 2022 - Posted by | Energy | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

8 Comments »

  1. This is the Eastern HVDC Link (to match the Western link between Hunterston and Flintshire Bridge). https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/publications/eastern-hvdc-decision-projects-initial-needs-case-and-initial-thinking-its-suitability-competition is Ofgem’s latest decision on this (warning: you may suffer from acronym overload whilst reading this). This now moves on the the Final Needs Case later this year.

    Also still a ‘proceed’ in the Grid’s latest recommendations https://www.nationalgrideso.com/research-publications/network-options-assessment-noa/noa-investment-recommendations – see under Scotland and N England, and scroll down to E2DC.

    And see https://www.ssen-transmission.co.uk/projects/eastern-hvdc-link/ and https://www.spenergynetworks.co.uk/pages/eastern_link_introduction.aspx

    Comment by Peter Robins | February 13, 2022 | Reply

  2. When they are told to switch off wind farms the operators get paid what are known as constraint payments its run up 100m in 2021 but this was reduced due to much lower wind output than recent years. Wind has been much more favourable over the last weeks and you can see daily constraint payments of over £8m/day although the detailed data hasn’t been released to identify who have been the recipients but in the narrative they refer to thermal transmission constraints from North of Scotland being the prime cause ie too much wind generation in North of Scotland exceeding transmission capacity.

    So this is doubly wasteful paying for nothing and having to pay CCGTs to generate when the price of gas is so high. So we have both an energy cost and climate crisis but we will take years to work there way through all the bureaucracy and lets be honest despite all the opposition that will be raised they will get approved. But look at the cost.

    Comment by Nicholas Lewis | February 14, 2022 | Reply

    • That’s why I like blending green hydrogen, produced using wind power with natural gas and running gas appliances and boilers on the mixture.

      Projects are proposed in Scotland to create nearly a 100 GWh of pumped storage and that is the second solution.

      Comment by AnonW | February 14, 2022 | Reply

    • https://www.nationalgrideso.com/electricity-explained/how-do-we-balance-grid/what-are-constraints-payments explains these payments quite well, I think. They point out that this is the most cost-effective option, i.e. it’s cheaper than building massive amounts of new infrastructure.

      Comment by Peter Robins | February 14, 2022 | Reply

  3. […] We probably need more interconnectors as I wrote about in New Electricity ‘Superhighways’ Needed To Cope With Surge In Wind Power. […]

    Pingback by Up To 24GW Of Long Duration Storage Needed fFor 2035 Net Zero Electricity System – Aurora « The Anonymous Widower | February 18, 2022 | Reply

  4. […] addition, in New Electricity ‘Superhighways’ Needed To Cope With Surge In Wind Power, I wrote about three proposed 2 GW North-South […]

    Pingback by How Britannia With Help From Her Friends Can Rule The Waves And The Wind « The Anonymous Widower | April 20, 2022 | Reply

  5. […] New Electricity ‘Superhighways’ Needed To Cope With Surge In Wind Power, I talked about National Grid’s plan to build new North-South interconnectors, that would […]

    Pingback by Ofgem Enables National Grid To Make Early Payment Of Interconnector Revenues, Helping To Reduce Household Bills « The Anonymous Widower | May 12, 2022 | Reply


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