Distribution & Storage
Power Networks Demonstration Centre at University of Strathclyde
The University of Strathclyde’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) was officially opened by Scotland’s First Minister today (15 May 2013).
The centre, the first of its kind in Europe, has been established in response to growing demands for secure, reliable and environmentally-friendly electricity across the globe.
The PNDC aims to accelerate the adoption of advanced technologies and convert ideas and research into low carbon solutions for the electricity industry of the future.
The world-class centre is home to researchers, engineers and industry specialists who are developing new research and technologies, from advanced grid control schemes to intelligent sensor systems, in the facility’s controlled and safe environment.
The 900-square-metre building is equipped with high quality, innovative control and simulations systems and is home to a real-life, reconfigurable power network independent from the national grid.
Located in Cumbernauld near Glasgow, the PNDC is a venture between the University of Strathclyde, ScottishPower Energy Networks, Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council.
Smart grid technologies are increasingly important as Scotland moves to a low-carbon economy, helping to reduce energy waste and making it easier for homes and businesses to generate their own renewable energy. This innovative research centre puts Scotland at the forefront of smart electrical technologies and setting new standards in electrical distribution.
Norwegian state involvement could jeapordise NorthConnect project
It seems that a proposal being put forward in Oslo to put the state-controlled grid operator Statnett in charge of all Norwegian interconnector projects could potentially stall or finish off the development of a North Sea HVDC interconnector between Scotland and Norway.
While Statnett currently has no interest in NorthConnect it does have a stake in other interconnector projects, including the North Sea Network (NSN) joint venture with National Grid. This project proposed to build an interconnector line between Northumberland and Western Norway, which would bypass Scotland and could damage the country’s hopes of being a major renewable energy exporter in the future.
This warning was given by Ødd Oygarden, who is the chairman of NorthConnect, the consortium behind the project. Oygarden said: “We will have to see what will happen with the Norwegian government’s proposition. If it goes ahead – You can take it that [cancelling the NorthConnect project] might be a possible development. The government suggesting that there should be a near-monopolistic situation with interconnectors is not what we want as a background for reaching agreements.”
This is the second bit of bad news for the project this month after it emerged that SSE, a major partner with a 25% in the consortium, was withdrawing to concentrate on other business. It cited a ‘lack of clarity on the regulatory regime around interconnectors’ for its decision to withdraw. The NOrwegian government has done little to promote such clarity with its somewhat opaque statement that “Grid investments shall be conducted if they are socio-economically profitable. This includes new interconnectors.”
Scottish company disconnects – other partners to go ahead
SSE has disconnected from its involvement in the NorthConnect interconnector project to build a 1400MW subsea HVDC electricity cable linking Scotland and Norway.
The electricity giant said it intended to focus on its core markets in the UK and Ireland. It blamed a ‘lack of clarity on the regulatory regime around interconnectors’ for its decision to withdraw.
The other members of NorthConnect, Vattenfall, E-CO Energi, Agder Energi and Lyse, said it would not affect their plans, while SSE said that its withdrawal ‘does not affect the deliverability of the project’.
Let’s hope that last part is right. This news, coming hard on the heels of the announcement of the Shetland interconnector delay and Voith Wavegen’s withdrawal from Scotland, is another reminder that Scotland’s renewables revolution needs a lot more joined up thinking and serious investment if it is to reach its full potential.
Shetland windfarm to feed power into the grid by Nov 2018
Shetland’s huge onshore windfarm will begin construction in early 2016 and will be ongoing until 2019. The delay is due to the renegotiation of the size of the development with planners and – more significantly – the delay in the installation of the HVDC interconnector to the mainland. It now looks likely that the critical 600MW interconnector cable from Shetland will make landfall in Caithness, so further upgrades to transmission lines in the far NE of the mainland may also be required.
Viking Energy is a 50-50 joint venture between Scottish & Southern Energy and the local community through a charitable trust. The partnership was granted planning consent for a potential 457 MW development by Scottish Ministers in April last year. However, the consent decision is currently being challenged in the Court of Session by Sustainable Shetland, who have lodged a judicial review.
Viking’s chairman Alan Bryce said that income projections had been reduced after Scottish Ministers had deleted 24 turbines from the original planning application.
However, he added that the company calculated that an additional £6 million a year would be received by crofters and landowners while a further £5 million per annum would be paid out for services sourced locally and in wages to the permanent workforce of around 30 people.
Working together for a fair deal for the Islands
A joint working group between the UK and Scottish Governments to find a solution to the problems of high transmission charges for the Western Isles will shortly appoint consultants to look at the renewable energy potential of the islands.
The Intergovernmental Scottish Islands Renewables Steering Group was established last year and is chaired by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and includes the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the National Grid, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Plc, Ofgem and the relevant island councils.
The group had a second successful meeting yesterday and announced the immanent appointment of the consultants, who will undertake a study on the commercial viability of renewable projects in the islands and their potential contribution to the economy, the barriers to their development, and options for tackling the barriers and report back later this spring.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said:
“We know that the islands are the jewel in Scotland’s renewable energy crown, and I am delighted at the work of the Intergovernmental Scottish Islands Renewables Steering Charging Group, which is an excellent example of Governments and stakeholders working together to find a solution to the problem of transmission charges in the Western Isles.
“The planned appointment of consultants to look at the extent of the renewable energy potential we know is present in the Islands, the barriers in place and how we overcome them, is an important step forward.
“This will group is a tangible and positive demonstration of the good working relationships between national and local governments, and a reaffirmation of our commitment to do our best for the islands, working towards our joint ambitions for the future development of renewable energy”.
Edward Davey, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said:
“The Scottish Islands are blessed with tremendous tidal, wind and wave renewable resources and we should look to fully utilise this huge potential where we can. I am determined to work closely and constructively with the Scottish Government and other key partners in this important area of work.
“The appointment of consultants will help drive forward work to look at the commercial viability of renewable projects on the Scottish Islands and the overall value for money these projects provide for the UK.”