Storing Scotland’s over-production of electricity in 100Mw batteries

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We’ve had numerous reports of Scotland’s wind-farms producing more than 100% of the country’s demand and, twice recently, doing so for whole months. See, for example:

Scotland’s wind turbines provide enough energy for 189% of Scottish homes on nearly every day in October. It was much the same in May.

 Storage for the periods in between when production dips below 100% remains a problem. Converting the surplus electricity into hydrogen is already on the way to offering a partial solution. See these recent reports:

Europe’s biggest hydrogen-powered bus fleet and now the UK’s biggest hydrogen cell installation are both in Scotland

MAJOR NEWS: World’s first tidal-powered hydrogen generated in Scotland after £3 million funding from SNP Government

However, a recent breakthrough in battery developments looks like producing one capable of storing 100Mw.

Tesla has just finished installing a 100Mw lithium-ion battery in South Australia which will be tested for connection to the grid. The initial power will come from an adjacent wind-farm.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/nov/23/elon-musks-tesla-battery-in-south-australia-poised-for-final-testing

No doubt they will be expensive but as production increases and competitors enter the market, prices will fall. Put this together with the higher daily reliability of tidal and offshore wind power off Scotland’s stormy coasts with a mixed economy including solar power and Scotland’s future energy supply look more than secure. More likely, the ‘Saudi of renewable power’ becomes a reality.

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11 thoughts on “Storing Scotland’s over-production of electricity in 100Mw batteries

  1. macgilleleabhar November 23, 2017 / 1:25 pm

    Yes battery storage is ideal for storage in stationary application but loses out due to size and weight where mobility is required.
    I hope that in the near future coasters like the Glen Sannox will be renewable energy produced hydrogen fuel cell powered as with all commercial vehicles.

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  2. Philip November 23, 2017 / 3:46 pm

    Once saw a programme where a small island, produced more electricity than required at times during windy conditions. Their solution was to use the surplus electricity to pump water into reservoirs where it was stored until required, at which time the water was released to power hydro-electric turbines. Scotland has an abundance of water, hills etc???

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  3. gavin November 23, 2017 / 4:24 pm

    Pumped storage, compressed air, batteries all good, but I like hydrogen. There are articles fairly frequently about advances in methodology for splitting water. In remoter communities( which can mean large areas of Scotland) with renewables, a hydrogen economy is an ideal solution for transport, energy for powering homes, industry, heating etc.
    At some point I believe, generating and storing hydrogen will be as economic as battery storage.

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    • Alasdair Macdonald November 23, 2017 / 6:26 pm

      I tend to agree with Gavin’s view. I am not decrying the development of batteries, but, there are, at present, issues regarding the supply of rare earths.

      With tidal and sea based wind generation of electricity, the electricity produced could be used in situ to electrolyse seawater and for the hydrogen to be piped ashore for storage and distribution. Such sea-based hydrogen generating plants would provide work for the skilled Scottish metal fabrication, shipbuilding and oil platform production workforce and have the potential for increased employment. Given the hostile and corrosive maritime environment, there would be a continuous demand for repair, maintenance and replacement.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. david crawford November 27, 2017 / 6:13 pm

    Ahh but Tesla wants to sell there batteries and to hell with the planet ,at least diesel gives jobs to the locals in scotland , where tesla employs slaves in the congo, they dont tell you about that !!!

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  5. Colin Dawson December 2, 2017 / 12:33 am

    Cruachan is useful for short peaks in demand but much larger pumped-storage schemes, or other sources of energy, would be needed to cover for periods when wind energy output drops for an extended period of time.

    Tidal energy is more predictable but still has peaks and troughs of output each day. These peaks and troughs do not align with peaks and troughs of demand.

    Two huge pumped storage schemes have been proposed for the Great Glen, which could help match electricity demand to the supply of renewable energy but have been on hold for several years because Westminster won’t agree feed-in tariffs.

    It might be possible to modify existing hydro schemes to become pumped storage. By way of example, pumping one metre of water back and forth between Loch Rannoch and Loch Ericht could store massive amounts of potential energy without needing new dams or flooding new land. The same could be done using many other pairs of loch in the existing hydro schemes. Converting these would however need enlarged pipes/tunnels, pumps and enlarged generators and perhaps some upgrades to the grid.

    Another option is to import and export electricity from/to Europe via a North Sea subsea interconnector grid.

    Some of the statistics about renewable generation in Scotland are rather misleading. We don’t just need power for homes; we need it for businesses too. How long will it be before we have enough renewable energy to power all of Scotland’s homes and businesses?

    The majority of homes and businesses in Scotland are heated using fossil fuels. A typical house uses several orders of magnitude more KWh of fossil fuels for heating and hot water than electricity for lighting etc. If we are to reach zero emissions of fossil fuels, we’ll either need to increase renewable electricity generation by many orders of magnitude and upgrade the capacity of the national grid as well as household and business electrical supplies in order to replace fossil fuel heating with electric and/or we’ll need to have micro generation capabilities at or close to each house and business. Have the implications of replacing fossil fuel heating with electric / renewable heating been property thought through? It doesn’t appear so to me.

    Will inadequacies with the national grid (and the need to top burning fossil fuels) mean that we will need to burn logs / woodchips for heating and hot water in future and, if so, will this create problems with smog and consequently public health? Community renewable generation/ heating schemes are another possible solution, in some cases using waste heat from industry.

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