Scotland and Wales place hopes in battery power

Scotland and Wales plan to embrace battery power in order to solve their respective clean energy and employment challenges. Scotland will link a 50MW "super battery" to a wind farm, while Wales wants to invest in battery production.

An artist's impression of what Scottish Power's 'super battery' at its Whitelee wind farm will look like once complete. Image: Scottish Power 

An artist's impression of what Scottish Power's 'super battery' at its Whitelee wind farm will look like once complete. Image: Scottish Power 

Renewable energy is mostly carbon-free but can be intermittent when sourced from the sun and wind. That is why power providers are turning more and more to large-scale batteries to store clean energy for when it is needed.

The Scottish government is behind the idea and this week approved the construction of a massive grid battery, larger than a tennis court, that will be hooked up to an onshore wind farm that already has 215 turbines.

When built, the battery will have double the capacity of any existing storage project in the UK. Its size means it will take an hour to fully charge and estimates say it will be able to power more than 800 electric cars to cover their full range.

Work is expected to begin this year and to be completed by the end of 2020.

“We know that renewable energy generation needs to quadruple and we know that onshore wind is the cheapest form of green energy,” Scottish Power's chief executive Keith Anderson said. 

“By integrating storage technologies with onshore wind, we are blowing away one of the myths about renewable generation not being available when you need it.”

Anderson’s firm, which will run the project, sold off its last remaining fossil fuel assets earlier this year and in doing so became the first power company in the UK to source all of its electricity from renewable sources.

The Scottish battery will rank among Europe’s most powerful when completed but is dwarfed by Tesla’s largest installation. Located in South Australia and also linked to a wind farm, the battery is 100MW and capable of powering 300,000 homes, according to the US company.

Climate planning

Tapping into additional clean power will be essential to Scotland’s goal to be carbon-neutral by 2045. The government announced in May that it would ratchet up advice provided by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which had proposed 2050 as the deadline.

On Tuesday (11 June), the Welsh government said that it too would accept the CCC’s advice, in this case 95% emission cuts by 2050, and that it would also aim to achieve full carbon neutrality by that same date.

The UK parliament is now looking at a bill proposed by its energy committee that will also commit the country as a whole to a net-zero target.

Wales is also looking into exploiting the power of batteries, with plans afoot to build a large-scale factory in the south coast town of Port Talbot, an area hard hit by the gradual decline of the steel industry.

OXIS Energy wants to build rechargeable batteries for buses, trucks, drones and even submarines in Port Talbot and aims to create 50 jobs by the end of next year and hundreds more in the coming decade.

The plan is to build components in Wales and then export them to another factory in Brazil, in order to satisfy the demand for electric buses in the southeastern province of Minas Gerais.

Wales’ development bank has already shelled out more than €3.5m to support the joint venture.

Sam Morgan, EurActiv.com

This article first appeared on EurActiv.com, an edie content partner



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