Why we must be more ambitious when it comes to large-scale storage for a greener electricity grid
The UK has made incredible advances in wind and solar power over the last 10 years. In fact, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has laid out ambitious plans to power every home by offshore wind by 2030. This is a bold and necessary step, but we must be thoughtful about the type of electricity that these renewable technologies bring to the grid.
Unlike the coal on which the grid was built and gas that’s still the largest source of electricity in the UK, intermittent power sources – such as wind or solar – only generate electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. But turning them off when they are generating too much power is wasteful. A grid overly reliant on these sources can fall victim to unfavourable weather conditions, leading to too little power generation and the risk of blackouts.
How do you create storage large enough to operate at massive scale?
Long duration energy storage technologies can address this, as they are able to preserve excess power when generation is plentiful, and then release it back on to the electricity system when homes and businesses demand more. The challenge is, how do you create storage large enough to operate at massive scale? And how do you deploy that at a speed quick enough to meet sudden changes in demand?
We believe pumped storage hydro (PSH) is an essential component of a decarbonised, reliable electricity grid. The country is at a point where it needs more PSH to take the next step forward in its journey to a net zero economy – at Drax we are poised to help deliver it.
We own and operate Cruachan Power Station, one of the country’s longest serving PSH plants. We are progressing plans to more than double its capacity to generate power. This expansion project – called Cruachan 2 – would help enable greater deployment of renewables to the grid, deliver cumulative savings of more than £350 million for consumers, and support 900 green jobs.
Cruachan 2 would help enable greater deployment of renewables to the grid.
Cruachan 2 could be operational by 2030, but for it to materialise we need the UK Government to commit to creating a route to market for this technology as well as continued support from the Scottish Government. That’s why we are engaging with our local community in the Highlands, seeking their views on this important project.
Find out more by reading my latest article in full.