Bottlenecks, Batteries, and the Battle for Scottish Wind

Bottlenecks, Batteries, and the Battle for Scottish Wind

3 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Scottish Scientist Reply

    Thank you to John Bowlus for his interest in the Scottish wind energy sector.

    “Aware of the problem, Scottish Power announced in June that it will build a 50-MW battery at Whitelee wind farm, dubbed the most ambitious power storage project in Europe.”

    Not “dubbed” by me and not in the least “ambitious” in my opinion.

    Scottish Power is run by accountants who don’t have a clue how to design and build a 100% renewable energy electricity grid, as they are demonstrating with this pathetic super-fail battery.

    The scale of energy storage capacity that is required means that batteries are the wrong technology choice for 100% renewable energy – much too expensive to build the size of capacity that is needed.

    The appropriate grid energy storage technologies are pumped storage hydroelectricity and power-to-gas making hydrogen fuel gas by electrolysis of water.

    Scottish Power should consult their parent company Iberdrola, who know all about pumped storage hydroelectricity.

    This battery will have only a mere 50MW for at most one hour – a 50 MWh energy storage capacity, which is inadequate to delivery renewable energy on demand using Whitelee Wind Farm’s energy. The battery is a gimmick, that’s all.

    50 to 70 times more energy storage capacity is required – 2,500 MWh to 3,500 MWh – to store of the order of one day’s average wind energy generation from the wind farm.

    This links to the Wind Generation Capacity Focus Table for a 539MW wind farm, like Whitelee.

    The “Wind Power” variable has been set to 539 MW. The default capacity factor for the table is 24% but that can be reset with the appropriate capacity factor for the particular wind farm, which can be estimated by dividing the actual energy generated in one year by 539 MW x 24 h/day x 365 days. Whitelee’s website assumes 27% but others say in practice it is less than that.

    For Capacity Factor 24%, the table rows recommend an energy storage capacity of between 2590 MWh and 2870 MWh.

    The table rows offer peak demand configuration rows of between 77 MW (Row A) and 539 MW (Row H) and the back-up power required for that varies from 0 MW (Row A) and 302 MW (Row H).

    So for example, the Row E configuration is

    Peak Demand Power: 200 MW
    Daily Usage of Energy: 2990 MWh
    Wind Power Capacity: 539 MW
    Capacity Factor: 24%
    Wind energy per day (average): 3100 MWh
    Storage Energy Capacity: 2870 MWh
    Back-up power: 79.8 MW

    Batteries are too expensive for the energy storage capacity you can afford. Batteries may be an option for isolated micro-grids where other energy options like pumped hydro are not available but a national grid has plenty of options.

    It looks like Scottish Power forgot to remember that when a snake-oil battery salesman turns up trying to sell you a “biggest ever” battery which has far too small an energy storage capacity to serve your wind farm adequately then politely but firmly SHOW HIM THE DOOR!

    My 100% Renewable Energy Blog
    * Wind, solar, storage and back-up system designer
    * Double Tidal Lagoon Baseload Scheme
    * Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power
    * World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
    * Search for sites to build new pumped-storage hydroelectricity schemes
    * Glasa Morie Glass Pumped-Storage Hydro Scheme
    * Let’s supersize × 1000 the tiny Glasa hydro scheme!
    * Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power
    * Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020
    * South America – GREAT for Renewable Energy

    • John Bowlus
      John Bowlus Reply

      Thank you very much for your interest and helpful comment. I have revised the article to reflect your excellent point that the 50-MW battery is but a drop in the bucket for what is needed, and a gimmick at that. The third paragraph has been changed to: “Aware of the problem, Scottish Power announced in June that it will build a 50-MW battery at Whitelee wind farm, but this alone will not solve the problem – more storage capacity and transmission lines need to be built to do so. How the battle plays out between rising network costs and infrastructure investments will say a lot about the UK’s energy future and is a litmus test for renewables more broadly.”

  2. Avatar
    Colin Megson Reply

    “…The momentum towards renewables in the UK is virtually unstoppable…”

    Dear Dr Bowlus,

    For the sake of the younger members of your family you should hope against hope your cogitations regarding a renewablers-UK do not come to pass.

    Search for: “the ramifications of your activities”

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