Opinion by Andrew Langlands Flexitricity: As renewable output continues to grow apace to meet the UK’s power demand, coal’s role in the system balancing act is being displaced by flexible front-of-meter assets and smart grid solutions such as demand-side response. In January 2019, National Grid opened a Distributed Resources Desk dedicated to dispatching decentralised assets such as energy storage in the BM. Not only will this transition help decarbonise the grid, the distributed nature of these assets will help overcome locational constraints. One such constraint exists at Hadrian’s wall, with the cables running overhead struggling to carry excess wind output from Scotland over the border to consumers in the south. This constraint has sometimes led to National Grid turning down windfarms at great cost to the consumer, often resulting in hyperbole in certain newspapers (they pay coal to turn down too, you know!). The Western Link, a new 240-mile 2.2GW subsea cable between Hunterston in Ayrshire and Flintshire in North Wales (adjacent to populous Merseyside), will alleviate some of this constraint. National Grid estimates it will save £136m in balancing costs per year, a saving that will recoup the project’s £1bn cost in less than ten years and keep those turbines on when the wind is blowing. But with stranded Scottish wind sometimes reaching 4-5GW, it’s like removing the bottom chunk of the Nevis range: those peaks will remain. As will some location-specific bottlenecks. And this is where Scottish batteries could step in. In the BM, system actions (marked by SO-flags) are actions taken by National Grid to overcome a locational constraint such as voltage limits in the south east or excess wind output in Scotland. Scottish batteries therefore have a great opportunity to take advantage of some of these SO-flagged actions, working alongside the likes of Cruachan pumped hydro to draw power from the network at times of high wind output and dispatch it when it’s needed at other times.
Energy Voice 13th June 2019 read more »