The Whitelee wind farm is one of the first large-scale wind farms to be developed close to a centre of population. It is also the largest on-shore windfarm in the United Kingdom and second largest in Europe. Its first turbine was erected in 2007 and since then it expanded to 215 turbines. These turbines generate up to 539 megawatts of electricity, enough to power just under 350,000 homes. But the turbines are only a part of a bigger complex. The future expansions will combine, a first of its kind in Scotland, 50MW lithium-ion battery that connects with the 539MW onshore wind farm
The ion-lithium batteries will be enclosed in a 44.5m by 34m portal frame building that will also house associated equipment and facilities. Its storage capacity will be 50 million Watt-hours, equivalent to the average hourly power consumption of 150,000 homes. The battery utility will be able to fully charge in less than an hour. Than it will be on “standby” to provide its services, for example reactive power response to National Grid, enhancing control and flexibility, it could also store wind energy during times of low demand and then injecting it into the grid at times of higher demand or when wind generation is no longer possible.
Keith Anderson, chief executive at ScottishPower 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. Natural resources like wind and solar are variable in their very nature, and by using a battery we can ensure we optimise our ability to use the resource most effectively “.
The goal for the UK government it to carbon neutral by 2050, to reach this they aim to decarbonize the economy, transportation and heating services. Large battery storage facilities like this one are crucial for the goal to be achievable.
The wind farm is expected to come online at the end of this year, with testing to ensure compliance with TSO grid code (UK electric system operator) due to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.
Other similar projects
UK ministers also invested £10 million in the world’s largest and first liquid air battery facility in Manchester.
The 50 MW project, to be built in Trafford, will be able to store energy for longer than a lithium battery – helping power 200,000 homes.
The UK has other handful of similarly-sized batteries, including the 50MW Pelham battery or battery storage facility at Roosecote.
The UK government is making it easier to construct large batteries to store renewable energy from solar and wind farms across the country, starting this year. Removing barriers in the planning system will help build bigger and more powerful batteries that will lead to creation of more green jobs and a smarter electricity network. These changes will help bring about storage cells that are 5 times bigger than those currently available.
Head of Markets at National Grid Electricity System Operator, Kayte O’Neill, said: “How we operate Great Britain’s grid is changing, with record levels of renewable sources generating our power. Storage can help us make the most of this green energy, using it to manage peaks and troughs in demand and operate the electricity system as efficiently as possible – keeping costs down for consumers too”.
The UK has the largest installed capacity of offshore wind in the world, sadly the availability and speed of wind is changing, this means that electrical energy can sometimes be produced when it is not needed and then lost. The key to maximizing the value of renewables is in ensuring homes and businesses can still be powered by green energy even when the sun is not shining, or the wind has stopped blowing.
*Photo By Thomas Nugent, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=76440204