The Anonymous Widower

Can We Move The Equilibrium Point Of The Energy Market?

Equilibrium In Systems

As a Control Engineer, I believe that most systems eventually end up in a state of equilibrium.

How many football batches have you watched between two evenly-matched teams that have ended, where the statistics are even and the match has ended in a nil-nil draw or a win by one goal.

Now suppose one manager makes an inspired substitution, one important player gets injured or one player gets sent off.

One team will have an advantage, the statistics will no longer be even and one team will probably win.

The equilibrium point will have been shifted.

Zopa’s Stable Peer-to-Peer Lending System

I used Zopa’s peer-to-peer lending system for several years and found it a very stable system, that over the years paid a steady return of between four and five percent before tax.

I even developed a method to maximise my savings income, which I wrote about in The Concept Of Hybrid Banking.

It was a sad day for me, when Zopa closed its ground-breaking peer-to-peer lending system.

As a Control Engineer, I believe that Zopa’s strength was a well-written computerised algorithm, that matched lenders and borrowers and spread the risk.

  • There was no bias in the system, introduced by personal prejudices.
  • The algorithm was agnostic and judged all borrowers on their profiles and credit ratings alone.
  • Money was allocated under fair rules for borrowers.
  • I never borrowed from Zopa, but from my experience of owning half of a finance company, their terms were the most customer-friendly I’ve ever seen.

Someone will go back to the basics of peer-to-peer lending and it can’t be soon enough for both savers and borrowers.

Zopa In Troubled Times

Over the years that I invested in Zopa, my returns stayed very much the same, as the algorithm seemed to be able to maintain sufficient difference between lenders’ returns and borrowers’ rates. I also suspect the dynamics of savvy lenders and borrowers helped to stabilise both the system and the difference between rates.

It even worked through the Banking Crisis of 2008 and other mini-hiccups along the way.

My Conclusion About Zopa

As someone, who knows computing well, I would rate Zopa, one of the best computer systems, I’ve ever seen.

But it showed how a large transactional system can work well.

One of the keys to its success and smooth operation was that the computer was totally in control and it took all transaction decisions without direct human intervention.

The Energy Market

The energy market is a network of energy providers and users.

It is controlled by complicated rules and it has settled into an equilibrium, which involves.

  • Importation of energy, which I suspect is not at a low price
  • Some high priced energy generators, based on gas, which has a high-price, due to Putin’s war.
  • Waste of wind energy due to lack of energy storage.
  • The intermittency of renewable sources.
  • A  lack of gas storage, means that we probably get the wrong end of fluctuations in the gas price.

This results in a high price to consumers.

Can We Move The Equilibrium Point Of The Energy Market?

And we also need to move it quickly to a more favourable place, which benefits everybody!

As a Control Engineer, I believe that there are five ways to move the equilibrium point.

  • Stop Putin’s war.
  • Increase gas storage.
  • Generate more low-cost electricity.
  • Increase electricity storage.
  • Improve the control algorithm.

I will now look at each in more detail.

Stopping Putin’s War

Giving in to Putin’s ambitions, would be an easy way to solve our energy crisis. But at what cost?

My parents generation, watched as Nazi Germany took over Austria and Czechoslovakia, whilst the world did nothing.

  • We mustn’t repeat that mistake.
  • We must not flinch in our support of the Ukraine.
  • We must be ready to support Moldova, Finland and the Baltic States if Putin expands his ambitions.

I do wonder, if Boris will turn up with Churchillian-style anti-Putin rhetoric all over Eastern Europe.

Increasing Gas Storage

The major gas storage facility is Rough, which is handily close to the Easington gas terminal.

The facility needs maintenance and this paragraph from the Wikipedia entry gives the current status.

In May 2022, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Kwasi Kwarteng, began talks with the site’s owners with a view to reopening the site to help ease the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the United Kingdom. In June 2022, owners Centrica submitted an application to the North Sea Transition Authority (NSTA), the licencing authority for the UK Government, to reopen the facility. Approval was granted in July. Subsequently, Centrica indicated that they are working hard to restore storage operations at Rough which would depend on securing subsidies from the British government. Centrica was aiming to have some capacity available for the winter of 2022/23 against an overall plan to increase storage capacity gradually over time.

Note.

  1. Rough can store around 2832 million cubic metres of gas.
  2. This article on Energy Live News is entitled Reopening Of Rough Storage Gets The All-Clear.

Less well-known is SSE and Equinor’s Aldborough Gas Storage.

These three paragraphs from SSE web site, describe the gas storage.

The Aldbrough Gas Storage facility, in East Yorkshire, officially opened in June 2011. The last of the nine caverns entered commercial operation in November 2012.

The facility, which is a joint venture between SSE Thermal (66%) and Equinor, has the capacity to store around 330 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas.

SSE Thermal and Equinor have consent to increase the storage capacity at the Aldbrough site (Aldbrough Phase 2) and during the last couple of years have been working to involve the local community where appropriate to refine aspects of this project, which has not been progressed to date due to market conditions.

Future plans for the facility, may include converting it to one of the world’s largest hydrogen stores.

In the grand scheme of things, Rough and Aldborough, when you consider that the UK uses 211 million cubic metres of gas every day, will only keep us going for a few days.

But it should be noted, that the Easington gas terminal is connected to the Norwegian gas fields, by the Langeled pipeline.

So Yorkshire and Humberside will be alright.

Generating More Low-Cost Electricity

The only low-cost electricity of any size to come on stream will be wind-power.

This article on Renewables Now is entitled UK Hits 25.5 GW Of Wind Power Capacity.

These wind farms seem to be coming on stream soon or have been commissioned recently.

  • Dogger Bank A – 1200 MW – Commissioning 2023 expected
  • Dogger Bank B – 1200 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected
  • Dogger Bank C – 1200 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected
  • Hornsea Two – 1386 MW – Commissioned 2022
  • Moray East – 950 MW – Commissioning 2022 expected
  • Neart Na Gaoithe – 450 MW – Commissioning 2024 expected
  • Seagreen – 1075 MW – Commissioning 2023 expected
  • Triton Knoll – 857 MW – Commissioning 2022 expected

That is expected to be over 5 GW of offshore wind by the end of 2023.

In case there is some double counting, I’ll only say that wind power capacity could be near to 30 GW by December 2023, with perhaps another 3 GW by December 2024.

Other large wind farms in the future include.

  • Berwick Bank – 4100 MW – Commissioning 2028 expected
  • East Anglia Two – 900 MW – Commissioning 2026 expected
  • East Anglia Three – 1400 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Inch Cape Phase 1 – 1080 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Hornsea Three – 2800 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Moray West – 294 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Morgan and Mona – 3000 MW – Commissioning for 2028 expected
  • Morven – 2900 MW – Commissioning for 2028 expected
  • Norfolk Boreas – 1400 MW – Commissioning 2027 expected
  • Norfolk Vanguard – 1400 MW – Construction start planned for 2023
  • Sofia – 1400 MW – Commissioning 2026 expected

That is over 14 GW of wind power.

I should also take note of solar and onshore wind power detailed in this document from the Department of Business, Industry and Industrial Strategy that lists all the Contracts for Difference Allocation Round 4 results for the supply of zero-carbon electricity.

It gives these figures and dates.

  • Solar – 251 MW – Commissioning 2023/24 expected
  • Solar – 1958 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected
  • Onshore Wind – 888 MW – Commissioning 2024/25 expected

I can now build a yearly table of renewables likely to be commissioned in each year.

  • 2022 – 3193 MW
  • 2023 – 2275 MW
  • 2024 – 701 MW
  • 2025 – 5246 MW
  • 2026 – 2300 MW
  • 2027 – 6974 MW
  • 2028 – 11400 MW

Note.

  1. Where a double date has been given, I’m taking the latter date.
  2. I have assumed that Norfolk Vanguard will be commissioned in 2028.
  3. I have ignored Hinckley Point C, which should add 3.26 GW in mid-2027.
  4. I have only taken into account one of the Scotwind wind farms in Scotland, some of which could be commissioned by 2028.
  5. I have assumed that BP’s Mona, Morgan and Morven will all be commissioned by 2028.

This is a total of 32 GW or an average of nearly 5 GW per year.

Increasing Electricity Storage

Big schemes like the 1.5 GW/ 30 GWh Coire Glas and 600 MW Cruachan 2 will help, but with 32 GW of renewable energy to be installed before 2028 and energy prices rocketing, we need substantial energy storage in the next couple of years.

One feasible plan that has been put forward is that of Highview Power’s CEO; Rupert Pearce,, that I wrote about in Highview Power’s Plan To Add Energy Storage To The UK Power Network.

The plan is to build twenty of Highview Power’s CRYOBatteries around the country.

  • Each CRYOBattery will be able to store 30 GWh.
  • Each CRYOBattery will be one of the largest batteries in the world.
  • They will have three times the storage of the pumped storage hydroelectric power station at Dinorwig.
  • They will be able to supply 2.5 GW for twelve hours, which is more output than Sizewell B nuclear power station.

Note.

  1. The first 30 GWh CRYOBattery is planned to be operational by late 2024.
  2. 600 GWh distributed around the country would probably be sufficient.

I believe that as these batteries are made from standard proven components, they could be built fairly quickly.

Paying For The Energy Storage

This press release from Highview Power is entitled New Analysis Reveals Extent Of UK Renewable Energy Waste, which makes these three bullet points.

  • Enough renewable energy to power 500,000 homes a day wasted since the energy crisis began.
  • 8 out of 10 Britons want more investment in boosting Britain’s energy resilience.
  • UK spent £390 million turning off wind farms and using gas since September 2021.

Note.

  1. As the press release was published in July 2022, was the £390 million for ten months.
  2. Will this level of spend continue, as we’re not creating any electricity storage or building any factories that will start in a year or so, that will need large amounts of electricity?
  3. The Germans are at least building the NeuConnect interconnector between the Isle of Grain and Wilhelmshaven.
  4. As we’re adding up to 5 GW per year to our renewable energy systems, this problem will surely get worse and we’ll spend more money switching off wind turbines.

We have the money to build a very large amount of energy storage.

Improving The Control Algorithm

A better control algorithm would always help and politicians should only be allowed to set objectives.

Conclusion

There is a chance we’ll have an oversupply of electricity, but this will have effects in the UK.

  • Gas-fired power-stations will be retired from front-line service to produce electricity.
  • Some will question the need for nuclear power.
  • Gas may even be used selectively to provide carbon dioxide for agricultural, scientific and industrial processes.
  • Industries that need a lot of electricity may build factories in the UK.
  • We will have a large supply of green hydrogen.

But it should bring the price of electricity down.

 

September 5, 2022 Posted by | Computing, Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Pumped Storage Development In Scotland

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on International Water Power & Dam Construction.

It describes and gives the current status of the two large pumped storage hydroelectric schemes under development in Scotland.

The 1.5 GW/30 GWh scheme at Coire Glass, that is promoted by SSE.

The  Cruachan 2 scheme, that is promoted by Drax, that will upgrade Cruachan power station to 1.04 GW/7.2 GWh.

Note.

  1. Construction of both schemes could start in 2024, with completion in 2030.
  2. Both, SSE and Drax talk of a substantial uplift in employment during the construction.
  3. Both companies say that updated government legislation is needed for schemes like these.

The article is very much a must-read.

Conclusion

Welcome as these schemes are, given the dates talked about, it looks like we will need some other energy storage to bridge the gap until Coire Glas and Cruachan 2 are built.

Will Highview Power step forward with a fleet of their 2.5 GW/30 GWh CRYOBatteries, as was proposed by Rupert Pearce in Britain Will Soon Have A Glut Of Cheap Power, And World-Leading Batteries To Store It.

  • The site needed for each CRYOBattery could be smaller than a football pitch.
  • In Could A Highview Power CRYOBattery Use A LNG Tank For Liquid Air Storage?, I came to the conclusion that a single LNG tank could hold a lot of liquid air.
  • The storing and recovery of the energy uses standard turbomachinery from MAN.
  • Highview Power should unveil their first commercial system at Carrington near Manchester this year.

I am sure, that when they get their system working, they could build one in around a year.

September 3, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Creation Of The Coire Glas Monster

Loch Ness is probably most famous for the mythical monster, but it is about to be joined by a man-made monster of a different kind.

To the South-West of Loch Ness lies Loch Lochy.

This Google Map shows the South-Western part of the Great Glen, which runs diagonally across the Highlands from Fort William in the South-West to Inverness in the North-East.

Note.

  1. Fort Augustus in the North-East corner of the map, is at the South-West end of Loch Ness.
  2. In the South-West corner of the map, Loch Lochy can be seen.
  3. To the North-West of Loch Lochy, there are mountains.

This second Google Map shows Loch Lochy and the mountains.

SSE plan to create a pumped storage hydroelectric power station called Coire Glas.

  • Loch Lochy will be the lower reservoir.
  • The upper reservoir will be in the mountains to the North-West of the loch.
  • Energy will be stored by pumping water from the lower to the higher reservoir.
  • The power station will be able to provide 1.5 GW of electricity.
  • The upper reservoir will be able to store enough water to generate 30 GWh of electricity.

If that isn’t a monster of a power station, I don’t know what is! It has more than three times the storage capacity of both Dinorwig or Cruachan.

This article on Utility Week, which is entitled Inside £1bn Pumped Hydro Plans To ‘More Than Double’ Britain’s Electricity Storage, gives more details.

This is the sort of heroic engineering, that will defeat Vlad the Mad and his bloodstained gas.

 

August 24, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Can Highview Power’s CRYOBattery Compete With Pumped Storage Hydroelectricity?

In this article on the Telegraph, Rupert Pearce, who is Highview’s chief executive and ex-head of the satellite company Inmarsat, discloses this.

Highview is well beyond the pilot phase and is developing its first large UK plant in Humberside, today Britain’s top hub for North Sea wind. It will offer 2.5GW for over 12 hours, or 0.5GW for over 60 hours, and so forth, and should be up and running by late 2024.

The Humberside plant is new to me, as it has not been previously announced by Highview Power.

  • If it is built it will be megahuge with a storage capacity of 30 GWh and a maximum output of 2.5 GW.
  • Humberside with its connections to North Sea Wind, will be an ideal location for a huge CRYOBattery.
  • The world’s largest pumped storage hydroelectric power station is Fengning Pumped Storage Power Station in China and it is 40 GWh.

Pumped storage hydroelectric power stations are the gold standard of energy storage.

In the UK we have four pumped storage hydroelectric power stations.

With two more under construction.

As energy is agnostic, 30 GWh of pumped storage hydroelectric power at Coire Glas is the equivalent of 30 GWh in Highview Power’s proposed Humberside CRYOBattery.

Advantages Of CRYOBatteries Over Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Power

I can think of these advantages.

  • Cost
  • Could be build on the flat lands of East Anglia or Lincolnshire
  • Factory-built
  • NIMBYs won’t have much to argue about
  • No dams
  • No flooding of valleys
  • No massive construction sites.
  • No mountains required
  • No tunnels
  • Small footprint

I suspect that a large CRYOBattery could be built well within a year of starting construction.

Rupert Pearce’s Dream

The Telegraph article says this and I suspect it’s a quote from Rupert Pearce.

Further projects will be built at a breakneck speed of two to three a year during the 2020s, with a target of 20 sites able to provide almost 6GW of back-up electricity for four days at a time, or whatever time/power mix is optimal.

6 GW for four days is 576 GWh, which if it were spread around twenty sites is 28.8 GWh per site, which is just under the 30 GWh of the proposed Humberside CRYOBattery.

Conclusion

You can just imagine the headlines in The Sun!

Man In Bishop’s Stortford Shed Saves The World!

This story on the BBC, which is entitled Meet The British Inventor Who Came Up With A Green Way Of Generating Electricity From Air – In His Shed, explains my suggested headline.

Now that’s what I call success!

 

July 29, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cost Of Turning Off UK Wind Farms Reached Record High In 2021

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Drax.

This is the first paragraph.

The cost of turning off wind farms in the UK has reached record levels, according to a new report.

The press release makes these points.

  • Investing in more long duration electricity storage, such as expanding Drax’s Cruachan pumped storage hydro plant in Scotland, would mean more excess renewable power could be stored and made available when required, cutting costs and carbon emissions.
  • The cost of turning off UK wind farms to manage the electricity system rose from almost £300m during 2020 to over £500m in 2021, contributing to higher energy bills and carbon emissions, according to a new report.
  • Costs increased substantially because the system relied on expensive gas power to manage periods when wind power was curtailed, as not enough electricity storage was available to prevent the excess renewable power from wind farms going to waste.

Drax give these reasons for the problems.

This happened as a result of constraints in the transmission system and a lack of long-duration storage capacity, which is needed to manage periods when renewable power generation outstrips demand.

The problem is going to get worse as we increase the amount of wind power in the UK.

Penny Small, Drax’s Group Generation Director sums everything up.

This report underlines the need for a new regulatory framework to encourage private investment in long-duration storage technologies.

The UK is a world-leader in offshore wind, but for the country’s green energy ambitions to be realised we need the right energy storage infrastructure to support this vital technology, make the system secure and reduce costs.

Drax’s plan to expand Cruachan will strengthen UK energy security, by enabling more homegrown renewable electricity to power British homes and businesses, reducing system costs and cutting carbon emissions.

A good framework has been created for wind farms and many more are being proposed and developed.

Frameworks are needed for both transmission systems and long-duration energy storage capacity.

June 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 1 Comment

Drax Submits Application To Expand Iconic ‘Hollow Mountain’ Power Station

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Drax.

The project is called Cruachan 2 and is described on this web site.

This is the introduction to the project.

We have kickstarted the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at Cruachan.

The 600 megawatt (MW) power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1 gigawatt (GW).

The new power station would be built within a new, hollowed-out cavern which would be large enough to fit Big Ben on its side, to the east of Drax’s existing 440MW pumped storage hydro station. More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to create the cavern and other parts of the power station. The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations.

Note.

  1. The generation capacity will be increased from 440 MW to 1040 MW, which is an increase of 36 %.
  2. Cruachan has a storage capacity of 7.1 GWh, which will not be increased.
  3. Cruachan opened in October 1965, so the generating equipment is nearly sixty years old.

I will assume that Drax and its various previous owners have kept the turbines, generators, dam and associated pipework in good condition, but as an Electrical Engineer, I do believe that the modern equipment, that will be used in Cruachan 2 will offer advantages.

  • One of these advantages could be the ability to ramp up power faster, than the original equipment.
  • I also suspect, it will have a sophisticated computer control system, that will allow the output of the power station to be precisely controlled.

These two features should mean that when a spike in power demand happens, that the combined Cruachan will step up to the plate.

So all those watching the Celtic and Rangers match on television, will still get their half-time cuppa.

I suspect that the combined Cruachan will be a power regulator of the highest quality.

Will The Storage Capacity Of Drax Be Increased?

Drax don’t appear to have any plans for increasing the size of the upper reservoir and I suspect that geography can’t deliver an affordable solution.

But.

  • Loch Awe is an excellent lower reservoir for a pumped storage system.
  • The building of Cruachan 2 may create substantial employment and economic benefits in the area.
  • Cruachan 2 is not the only pumped storage scheme under development in the area.
  • The UK needs as much pumped energy storage as can be created.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see, further development of Cruachan, if Cruachan 2 is an overwhelming success.

It’ll all be down to the geography and the economics.

 

May 17, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , | 1 Comment

MacHairWind Wind Farm

MachairWind wind farm has its own page on the ScottishPower Renewables web site.

These are the two introductory paragraphs.

The MacHairWind project off the coast of Islay, which could deliver 2GW of cleaner renewable energy, will make a significant contribution to tackling climate change and achieving Net Zero, with the potential to generate enough clean electricity to power over 2 million homes in Scotland.

It will also build on ScottishPower’s long-standing presence and positive track record of investing in and working with local communities and businesses across Argyll & Bute to realise the benefits of renewable energy developments.

This Google Map shows the area of the wind farm, which is to the North West of the island of Islay.

Note.

  1. There certainly is a large space of empty sea to the North-West of Islay.
  2. Glasgow is not far away.

This second Google Map shows the area to the North-East of Islay.

Note.

Wikipedia says this about the relationship of the Cruachan power station and Hunterston’s nuclear stations.

Construction began in 1959 to coincide with the Hunterston A nuclear power station in Ayrshire. Cruachan uses cheap off-peak electricity generated at night to pump water to the higher reservoir, which can then be released during the day to provide power as necessary.

Now that the two nuclear stations are being decommissioned, will the MacHairWind wind farm be used to pump water to Cruachan’s higher reservoir?

Conclusion

The MacHairWind wind farm seems a well-positioned wind farm.

  • It is close to Glasgow.
  • It can be used in tandem with the Cruachan pumped hydro power station.
  • It will have access to the Western HVDC Link to send power to the North-West of England.

Is Scotland replacing the 1.2 GW Hunterston B nuclear power station with a 2 GW wind farm, with help from Cruachan and other proposed pumped storage hydro schemes to the North of Glasgow?

It also looks like increasing the power at Cruachan from the current 440 MW to a GW, by the building of Cruachan 2 would give the area even more energy security.

 

March 23, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ministerial Roundtable Seeks To Unlock Investment In UK Energy Storage

The title of this post, is the same as that of this press release from Drax.

These are the first two paragraphs.

Business leaders have met with UK Energy Minister the Rt Hon Greg Hands MP to discuss how the government could unlock significant investment in vital energy storage technologies needed to decarbonise the power sector and help ensure greater energy independence.

The meeting was organised by the Long-Duration Electricity Storage Alliance, a new association of companies, progressing plans across a range of technologies to be first of their kind to be developed in the UK for decades.

This press release, which I found on the Drax website, has obviously been produced by the four companies; Drax, Highview Power, Invinity Energy Systems and SSE Renewables.

Greg Hands MP, who is the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth said this.

The Long-Duration Electricity Storage Alliance is a key part of our plan to get the full benefit from our world-class renewables sector. Government have already committed £68 million of funding toward the development of these technologies.

“This will support the UK as we shift towards domestically-produced renewable energy that will boost our energy security and create jobs and investment.

The three CEOs and a director from SSE, make statements about what they are doing and what they need from Government, which are all worth reading.

  • Drax still needs planning permission for its flagship project at Cruachan, that is called Cruachan 2.
  • SSE are saying that the massive 30 GWh Coire Glas pumped hydro scheme has full planning permission and is shovel-ready.
  • Drax and SSE appear to be in favour of Cap and Floor regimes to support long term energy storage.
  • Highview Power and Invinity Energy Systems appear very optimistic.
  • Finance for capital cost is not mentioned. As billions will be needed for some of these schemes and the returns are very predictable, I assume that it has been promised.

After reading this press release fully, I too am optimistic.

Conclusion

I feel sure, that a sensible plan will evolve fairly soon, which will involve these four companies and possibly some others.

March 19, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Scotland’s Energy Storage

I have been using the web sites of Drax Group, SSE Renewables and ILI Group, and this page from Strathclyde University to look at various hydro-electric schemes to store energy using the tried-and-tested method of pumped hydro.

I have analysed these schemes.

Affric/Beauly

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

Situated about 16 kilometres to the west of Inverness, Beauly is the gateway to the Affric/Beauly hydro electric scheme.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 100.3 MW.

My analysis in Repurposing The Affric/Beauly Hydro-Electric Scheme, showed the following.

  • Research from Strathclyde University, says that the Affric/Beauly scheme could support 78 GWh of pumped storage in one scheme at Fasnakyle.
  • Adding pumped storage facilities to the Affric/Beauly hydro-electric scheme, with a capacity of upwards of a conservative 50 GWh, should be possible.

Generating capacity and system operation could be improved by replacing some or all of the 1950s and 1960s turbines with modern units and using modern control systems.

The Affric/Beauly hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 50 GWh of storage.

Balliemeanoch

This new scheme is being developed by the ILI Group.

From what is published in the press. it appears to be a giant 1.5 GW/45 GWh project.

In Thoughts On The Balliemeanoch Pumped-Hydro Scheme, I analyse the plan.

The Balliemeanoch hydro-electric scheme could add 45 GWh of storage.

Balmacaan

This new scheme is being developed by SSE Renewables.

My searches in A Possible Balmacaan Pumped Storage System, showed the following.

It has a 600 MW generating capacity and I suspect would have about 15-20 GWh of storage.

The Balmacaan hydro-electric scheme could conservatively add upwards of 15 GWh of storage.

Breadalbane

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

The Breadalbane scheme is set in the mountainous region around Loch Lyon, Loch Tay and Loch Earn in Perthshire.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 168.4 MW.

My analysis in Repurposing The Breadalbane Hydro-Electric Scheme, showed the following.

  • Research from Strathclyde University, says that the Breadalbane scheme could support 12 GWh of pumped storage in one scheme at Ben Lawers.
  • I believe a similar scheme could be built South of Loch Tay to add a similar amount of pumped storage capacity.

As with the Beauly/Affric scheme, generating capacity and system operation could be improved by replacing some or all of the 1950s and 1960s turbines with modern units and using modern control systems.

The Breadalbane hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 12 GWh of storage.

Coire Glass

This new scheme is being developed by SSE Renewables and the project has its own web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

Coire Glas is a hydro pumped storage scheme with a potential capacity of up to 1500MW. Coire Glas is an excellent pumped storage site with a large lower reservoir (Loch Lochy) and a significant elevation of more than 500m between the lower and the new upper reservoir site over a relatively short distance.

It is planned to generate a maximum power of up to 1.5 GW for twenty hours, which indicates an energy storage capacity of 30 GWh.

In SSE Renewables Launches 1.5GW Coire Glas Construction Tender, I talk about the current status of the project.

The Coire Glas hydro-electric scheme could add 30 GWh of storage.

Conon

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

The Conon scheme lies within the northwest Highlands, broadly between Inverness and Ullapool. Electricity generation started here when the Ross-shire Electricity Supply Company built the small Falls of Conon hydro electric power station in the 1920s.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 107.2 MW.

My analysis in Repurposing The Conon Hydro-Electric Scheme, showed the following.

  • Research from Strathclyde University, says that the Conon scheme could support up to 131 GWh of pumped storage.
  • Adding pumped storage facilities to the Conon hydro-electric scheme, with a capacity of upwards of a conservative 30-40 GWh, should be possible.

As with other schemes, generating capacity and system operation could be improved by replacing some or all of the 1950s turbines with modern units and using modern control systems.

The Conon hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 30 GWh of storage.

Corrievarkie

This new scheme is being developed by the ILI Group.

From the planning application it appears to be a 600 MW/14.5 GWh project.

In Corrievarkie Pumped Storage Hydro Project, I analyse the plan.

The Corrievarkie hydro-electric scheme could add 14.5 GWh of storage.

Cruachan

Cruachan is a pumped-storage power station, that is owned by Drax, which have a comprehensive web site for the power station.

  • It has an output of 440 MW.
  • It has an energy storage capacity of 7.1 GWh
  • It can can reach full generating capacity in less than 30 seconds.

In Drax’s Plans For Cruachan, I analyse Drax’s plans, which they call Cruachan 2.

  • It will be a 600 MW power station.
  • It will be to the East of the current power station.
  • More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to build the power station.

The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations.

These was my conclusions.

It looks like very good engineering to me.

  • There is a good chance, that on most nights, the reservoir will be filled using wind energy
  • The maximum output of the Cruachan power station has been more than tripled from 323 to 1010 MW.
  • There has been no increase in the size of the Cruachan reservoir.

Scotland will now have a GW-sized hydro-electric power station.

It will not be very much smaller than Sizewell B nuclear station.

Foyers

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

The current Foyers Power Station operates quite differently to conventional hydro electric power stations. Foyers hydro scheme consists of one pumped hydro power station and one hydro power station and one major dam..

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 305 MW.

My research and analysis in The Development Of The Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme, showed the following.

  • Foyers is a modern pumped-hydro scheme with a capacity of 10 GWh.
  • The updating of the original 1896 hydro-power station to a modern pumped-storage system in 1974 is a superb example of hydro-power engineering.

The development of Foyers power station is an example, that shows what can be done in other hydro-electric schemes around Scotland and the rest of the world.

Galloway

Galloway is a hydroelectric scheme, that is owned by Drax, which have a comprehensive web site for their two hydroelectric schemes in Scotland; Galloway and Lanark.

  • Galloway has a total output of 109 MW.
  • It has six power stations at Drumjohn, Kendoon, Carsfad, Earlstoun, Glenlee and Tongland.
  • There is no energy storage
  • It is what is known as a run-of-the-river scheme.

The scheme opened in the 1930s.

Glendoe

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

In 2009, the first major hydro electric power station to be built in Scotland for almost 30 years, Glendoe on the eastern shore of Loch Ness, began generating electricity.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 106.5 MW.

My analysis in Glendoe Hydro Power Station, led me to conclude, that engineers will look at this scheme built in the early years of this century to convert it to a pumped storage facility. It might even have been designed for conversion to a pumped storage station, as it was built after the successful conversion of Foyers power station. Comparing the size of the upper lake to Foyers and other schemes, I would estimate it could easily provide in excess of 15 GWh of storage.

The Glendoe hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 15 GWh of storage.

Glenmuckloch

This is a small scheme promoted by Buccleuch, that generates 4 MW and stores 1.6 GWh in a disused opencast coal mine.

My analysis in The Glenmuckloch Pumped Storage Scheme, led me to this conclusion.

This project appears to have stalled, but I do like the idea of using a disused mine to store energy and the engineering behind the project.

I will ignore it in my conclusions of this post.

Great Glen

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

The Great Glen runs for more than 100 kilometres from Inverness in the northeast, to Fort William in the southwest, following a geological fault line that divides north and south Scotland.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 112.7 MW.

My analysis in Repurposing The Great Glen Hydro-Electric Scheme, showed the following.

  • Research from Strathclyde University, says that the Great Glen scheme could support up to 90 GWh of pumped storage.
  • Adding pumped storage facilities to the Great Glen hydro-electric scheme, with a capacity of upwards of a conservative 30 GWh, should be possible.

As with other schemes, generating capacity and system operation could be improved by replacing some or all of the 1950s and 1960s turbines with modern units and using modern control systems.

The Great Glen hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 30 GWh of storage.

Lanark

Lanark is a hydroelectric scheme, that is owned by Drax, which have a comprehensive web site for their two hydroelectric schemes in Scotland; Galloway and Lanark.

  • Lanark has a total output of 17 MW.
  • It has two power stations at Bonnington and Stonebyres.
  • There is no energy storage
  • It is what is known as a run-of-the-river scheme.

The scheme opened in the 1920s.

Red John

This new scheme is being developed by ILI Group and the project has its own web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

Between 2007 and 2015, the total installed capacity of renewables electricity in Scotland has more than doubled. Due to its intermittent nature, the rise in renewable generation has resulted in increased demand for flexible capacity to help meet energy balancing requirements for the national grid system.

Pumped storage hydro is considered by the Directors to be the most developed and largest capacity form of grid energy storage that currently exists. This can help reduce renewable energy curtailment and therefore promote grid stability.

The web site says this about the project.

  • The scheme has an output of 450 MW.
  • The storage capacity is 2.8 GWh.
  • The scheme has planning consent.
  • The project is budgeted to cost £550 million.
  • The construction program indicates that the scheme will be completed by the end of 2025.

It also has very detailed maps.

I wrote about the project in Red John Pumped Storage Hydro Project, where I came to these conclusions.

  • This scheme has the output of a large gas-fired power station for just over six hours.
  • The finances must add up, as no-one would back a scheme like this if they didn’t get an adequate return on their money.

It may only be a small scheme, that is a quarter of the size of the existing nearby Foyers pumped-storage scheme, but as it is shovel-ready, we should start digging.

The Red John hydro-electric scheme would add 2.8 GWh of storage.

Shin

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

Shin is Scotland’s most northerly hydro electric scheme. It utilises water from a 650 square kilometre catchment area in Sutherland, including Loch Shin, and water from the River Cassley and River Brora.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 32.1 MW.

My analysis in Shin Hydro Power Scheme, showed the following.

  • I would be very surprised if any pumped storage were to be added to this scheme.
  • This 1950s scheme has been partially updated.

Perhaps some more updating would be worthwhile.

Sloy/Awe

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

With the exception of Cruachan Power Station which was commissioned in 1965, major work on the Sloy/Awe scheme was completed by 1963, the year the Beatles had their first No 1 hit with From Me To You – and a world away from the immediate post-war austerity being experienced when Sloy Power Station was commissioned just 14 years earlier.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 261.9 MW.

My analysis in Repurposing The Sloy/Awe Hydro-Electric Scheme, showed the following.

  • Research from Strathclyde University, says that the Sloy/Awe scheme could support up to 68 GWh of pumped storage.
  • Adding pumped storage facilities to the Sloy/Awe hydro-electric scheme, with a capacity of upwards of a conservative 40 GWh, should be possible.

As with other schemes, generating capacity and system operation could be improved by replacing some or all of the 1930s and 1950s turbines with modern units and using modern control systems.

The Sloy/Awe hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 40 GWh of storage.

Tummel Valley

The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site, which introduces the scheme like this.

The Tummel scheme stretches from Dalwhinnie, famous for its whisky distillery, in the north, to the remote Rannoch Station in the west, and the highly-popular tourist town of Pitlochry in the east.

Currently, it generates a maximum power of 309.2 MW.

My analysis in Repurposing The Tummel Hydro-Electric Scheme, showed the following.

  • Research from Strathclyde University, says that the Tummel Valley scheme could support up to 135 GWh of pumped storage.
  • Adding pumped storage facilities to the Tummel Valley hydro-electric scheme, with a capacity of upwards of a conservative 40-60 GWh, should be possible.

As with other schemes, generating capacity and system operation could be improved by replacing some or all of the 1930s and 1950s turbines with modern units and using modern control systems.

The Tummel Valley hydro-electric scheme could be augmented by upwards of 40 GWh of storage.

A Simple Summary

These are deliberately conservative figures from my analysis.

  • Affric/Beauly – 50 GWh
  • Balliemeanoch – 45 GWh
  • Balmacaan – 15 GWh
  • Breadalbane – 12 GWh
  • Coire Glas – 30 GWh
  • Conon – 30 GWh
  • Corrievarkie – 14.5 GWh
  • Glendoe – 15 GWh
  • Great Glen – 30 GWh
  • Red John – 2.8 GWh
  • Sloy/Awe – 40 GWh
  • Tummel Valley – 40 GWh

Note.

  1. With new storage like Balliemeanoch, Balmacaan, Coire Glas, Corrievarkie and Red John, I am using published figures where they are available.
  2. With figures from existing schemes,I am being deliberately very conservative.

That is a total of 324.3 GWh with 107.3 GWh down to new storage

Strathclyde University’s Prediction

This page on the Strathclyde University web site, gives these figures for the possible amounts of pumped-storage that can be added to existing schemes.

  • Errochty – 16
  • Glasgarnock – 23
  • Luichart – 38
  • Clunie – 40
  • Fannich – 70
  • Rannoch – 41
  • Fasnakyle – 78
  • Tummel – 38
  • Ben Lawers – 12
  • Nant – 48
  • Invermoriston – 22
  • Invergarry – 41
  • Quoich – 27
  • Sloy – 20

That is a total of 514 GWh or 621.3 GWh if you include new storage.

Conclusion

Scotland and the UK, has been left a superb legacy for the future by the pioneering work of Scottish engineers and the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board.

Most of these assets are now in the hands of two groups; Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Drax Group.

Having seen several of the schemes detailed in this post, in the last few weeks, on Michael Portillo’s; Great Coastal Railway Journeys, it does seem that both groups are looking after their assets.

SSE and Drax also seem to be doing their best to publicise the success of one of the UK’s high-value, but low-profile engineering assets.

I believe that we should do a survey that would identify the following.

  • What needs to be done to allow each aqueduct, dam, power station and tunnel to continue to function until a given date in the future.
  • Which of the individual schemes can be updated to larger schemes or pumped storage systems.

We would then be able to device a long term plan to create a world-class hydro-electric power scheme for Scotland.

Scotland should be able to provide upwards of 400 GWh of pumped-storage.

This article on Current News is entitled Up To 24GW Of Long Duration Storage Needed For 2035 Net Zero Electricity System – Aurora.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Deploying large quantities of long duration electricity storage (LDES) could reduce system costs and reliance on gas, but greater policy support is needed to enable this, Aurora Energy Research has found.

In a new report, Aurora detailed how up to 24GW of LDES – defined as that with a duration of four hours or above – could be needed to effectively manage the intermittency of renewable generation in line with goals of operating a net zero electricity system by 2035. This is equivalent to eight times the current installed capacity.

Additionally, introducing large quantities of LDES in the UK could reduce system costs by £1.13 billion a year in 2035, cutting household bills by £26 – a hot topic with energy bills on the rise as a result of high wholesale power prices.

The report also says that long duration storage could cut carbon emissions by ten million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

It appears to me, Scotland can provide more than enough energy storage for the UK and the Island of Ireland, even if the seas around the British Isles were almost completed covered by wind turbines.

In addition, to the works in Scotland to update the various hydroelectric schemes, there would need to be more interconnectors around the UK and probably to close countries like Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Norway.

There could even be an interconnector between Iceland and Scotland, so Iceland’s abundance of zero-carbon electricity could be exported to Europe.

 

 

 

March 2, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Repurposing The Sloy/Awe Hydro Scheme

The Sloy/Awe hydro-electric scheme was built in the 1930s and 1950s, by the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board.

  • The scheme is now owned by SSE Renewables and has a page on their web site.
  • There are ten individual power stations; Sloy, Sron Mor, Clachan, Allt-na-Lairige, Nant, Inverawe, Inverawe, Loch Gair, Striven and Lussa.
  • There are four dams; Sloy, Allt-na-Lairige and two dams at Shira.
  • Cruachan used to be part of this scheme, but is now owned by Drax.

This map from the SSE Renewables web site shows the layout of the dams and power stations.

The sizes of the power stations in the scheme are as follows.

  • Sloy – 152.5 MW
  • Sron Mor – 5 MW
  • Clachan – 40 MW
  • Allt-na-Lairige – 6 MW
  • Nant – 15 MW
  • Inverawe – 25 MW
  • Kilmelford – 2 MW
  • Loch Gair – 6 MW
  • Striven – 8 MW
  • Lussa – 2.4 MW

This gives a total power of 261.9 MW.

It should be noted that Cruachan power station is also in this area and in Drax’s Plans For Cruachan, I talked about expanding the station from a 440 MW/7.1 GWh pumped-storage station to one of 1040 MW/7.1 GWh.

Scotland would appear to have 1.3 GW of hydro-electric power between Loch Awe and Loch Lomond.

 

This Google Map shows the same area as the SSE Renewables Map.

Note.

  1. Loch Awe, which is the sixth biggest freshwater loch in Scotland, is in the North-East corner.
  2. Loch Fyne, which is the longest sea loch in Scotland, is in the South-West corner.
  3. Loch Lomond, which is the second biggest freshwater loch in Scotland, is in the South-East corner.
  4. Loch Long reaches up from the South to the West of Loch Lomond.

These are four big lochs.

Strathclyde University And Pumped Storage Power For Scotland

This page on the Strathclyde University gives a list of the pumped storage potential for Scottish hydrogen-electric dams and power stations.

These figures are given for the dams and lochs in the Sloy/Awe scheme.

  • Sloy – 20 GWh
  • Nant – 48 GWh

It would appear that based on research from Strathclyde University, that the Sloy/Awe scheme could support over 60 GWh of pumped storage.

Water Flows In The Sloy/Awe Scheme

Looking at the SSE Renewables map of the Sloy/Awe scheme, water flows appear to be as follows.

  • Loch Awe to Loch Etive via Inverawe power station.
  • Cruachan reservoir to Loch Awe via Cruachan power station.
  • Loch Nant to  Loch Awe via Nant power station.
  • Loch Nant to Loch Etive via Inverawe power station.
  • Lochan Shira to Lochan Sron Mor via Sron Mor power station.
  • Lochan Sron Mor to Loch Fyne via Clachan power station.
  • Allt-na-Lairige reservoir to Loch Fyne via Allt-na-Lairige power station.
  • Loch Sloy to Loch Lomond via Sloy power station.

All the water eventually flows into the sea to the West from Loch Etive and Loch Fyne.

Refurbishing And Repurposing The Sloy/Awe Scheme

Perhaps as the power stations are now over fifty years old, one simple way to increase the generating capacity of the Sloy/Awe scheme, might be to selectively replace the turbines, with modern turbines, that can generate electricity more efficiently.

I suspect that SSE Renewables have an ongoing program of improvements and replacements for all of their hydro-electric stations in Scotland. Some turbines at Sloy power station have already been replaced with larger ones.

Adding Pumped Storage To The Sloy/Awe Scheme

Strathclyde University picked out two places where pumped storage could be added; Sloy and Nant.

I discussed Sloy power station in A Lower-Cost Pumped Hydro Storage System and came to these conclusions.

  • For £40 million, 14 GWh of pumped storage can be created at Sloy.
  • But it could be bigger than 14 GWh, as this page on the Strathclyde University web site, says 20.4 GWh is possible.
  • This would surely, be a project that could be first in the queue, once the environmental problems are solved.

20 GWh or even 14 GWh of pumped storage would be nice to have reasonably quickly.

As I said, this must be a high priority project.

The other project is at Loch Nant.

Note.

  1. Loch Nant is in the Western side of the map.
  2. Nant power station is marked by the red arrow.
  3. The loch to the South of the power station is Loch Awe.
  4. It appears that water can also go from Loch Nant to Inverawe power station to the North-East of the loch.
  5. Inverawe power station is on Loch Awe, which curves round Loch Nant.
  6. The 440MW/7.1 GWh Cruachan pumped-storage power station is on the other side of Loch Awe in the North East corner of the map, with the Cruachan dam and reservoir above.

Strathclyde University says that 48 MWh of pumped-storage could be possible at Loch Nant.

  • Comparing the size of Cruchan reservoir at 7.1 GWh and the larger Loch Nant, gives me hope that Loch Nant could hold upwards of 20-30 GWh.
  • From pictures on this page at Subterranea Britannica, it appears Nant power station has only a single 15 MW turbo-generator.
  • Inverawe power station is a 25 MW power station with a single turbo-generator.

I suspect that pump-turbines could be installed to fill Loch Nant from Loch Awe, just as was done at Foyers, where a 300 MW pumped storage power station was created.

Conclusion

There would appear to be up to two schemes, that could  each add around 20 GWh of pumped storage.

One advantage is that the waters of Loch Awe and Loch Lomond can be used for the lower reservoir.

 

March 1, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment