Three fossil fuel free turbines will go live this summer, producing green inertia by mimicking the effect of a power station, according to National Grid ESO.
They form part of a £336 million ESO investment programme to both measure and generate inertia in Britain run by the operator.
Two of the turbines – located in Killingholme, Lincolnshire and Grain, Kent – are being developed by Uniper. Siemens Energy was appointed to deliver the rotating grid stabilisation technology at the sites in December 2020, repurposing steam turbines and flywheels. The third turbine is being built at Lister Drive, Liverpool by Statkraft, at one of its Greener Grid Parks.
All three were awarded contracts by National Grid ESO in January 2020 as part of its Stability Pathfinder Programme.
Also this summer, the world’s first ultracapacitor will begin operation in Teesside. The £7.5 million ‘sonar’ tool is being built by Reactive Power, and will be used to measure inertia on the system.
It is designed to send pulses of power through the grid, and then map any deviations from the required level of inertia, alerting the operator. By improving the ESO’s ability to monitor and manage the grid, the technology is expected to enable greater amounts of renewables to connect to it.
Nearly £1 million is also being invested in an inertia measuring and forecasting tool developed by GE Digital, which is currently in the process of being deployed.
“We operate the fastest decarbonising electricity network in the world and these new trail-blazing green turbines and measuring tools are vital for zero carbon grid operation by in 2025,” Julian Leslie, head of networks at National Grid ESO, said.
“Building a green system with enough inertia is an engineering challenge for system operators worldwide and we’re the first to be solving it. Plus, we’ve solved it in a way that means it’s significantly cheaper for consumers than before we made the investment, with all the benefits of zero carbon.”
Along with the three new turbines, other technologies awarded contracts by the ESO in 2020 are starting operation. This includes a synchronous condenser installation at Rassau, in Ebbw Vale, South Wales, which Quinbrook Infrastructure Partners commissioned in February.
Triton Power won a contract to repurpose two gas turbines at its Deeside Power Station to provide inertia and reactive power to National Grid ESO. Finally Drax was awarded a contract and has started providing inertia through its Cruachan hydroelectric pumped storage plant.
Beyond these technologies, National Grid ESO introduced a Grid Code modification allowing converter connected technologies including renewables and interconnectors to provide ‘grid forming’ or virtual synchronous machine capability to the grid in February.