World’s most powerful offshore wind farm officially opens off Aberdeen coast

EOWDC

The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) was officially opened this week by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. The 11 turbine system was developed by the Swedish company Vattenfall, and is said to be the most powerful in the world.

Scotland is already home to several onshore and offshore windfarms, and despite its relatively small size the country is a world leader when it comes to renewable energy.

The new development has a total generating capacity of 93.2 MW – enough to supply around 70% of the domestic energy demand in nearby Aberdeen, or the equivalent of 80,000 homes.

The project was briefly in the international spotlight back in 2015 when Donald Trump, then a US presidential candidate, attempted to block planning permission for the site claiming it would spoil the view from his Aberdeenshire golf course.

“Groundbreaking Project”

Nicola Sturgeon was joined by over 100 business leaders and dignitaries for the opening ceremony, held on board a NorthLink Ferry in the North Sea.

EOWDC
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was joined by Vatennfall CEO & President Magnus Hall for the opening ceremony.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I am proud that as part of this groundbreaking project, the world’s most powerful offshore wind turbines are now up and running in Scotland.”

“The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre will maintain Scotland’s reputation for innovation in low-carbon and renewable energy development and deployment.”

“A single rotation of one of these 8.8mw turbines will generate enough energy to power a home for 24 hours, which truly shows the potential of this technology to strengthen Scotland’s renewable energy-generating capacity in the future.”

The site began producing power in July, ahead of the official opening in September.

Scottish tidal power plant smashes renewable energy records

SR 2000

A tidal energy turbine off the coast of Orkney is generating more power than the rest of Scotland’s wave & tidal sector combined!

The Scotrenewables SR2000 was installed in 2017 in the sea near the small island of Eday. Its 2MW turbine has so far produced around three gigawatt-hours of electricity. It has produced more power in a 12 month period than every other wave & tidal project in Scotland put together.

Andrew Scott, CEO of Scotrenewables Tidal Power, described it as a “phenomenal result”.

Innovative approach

Unlike older tidal power plants – which look a little like wind turbines attached to the seabed – the SR2000 floats on the surface like a boat, with turbines hanging underneath it. This makes it easier to repair & maintain, as the parts are more easily accessible.

SR 2000
2 large turbines hang down underneath the boat-like structure. Image from Scotrenewables.

Mr Scott said: “We’ve taken a very novel approach and we believe we’ve got a very disruptive technology in that space.”

The Orkney islands are home to just over 20,000 people, and the SR2000 can provide around 7% of their electricity needs on a typical day – but has been known to provide over a quarter of demand on a good day.

The owners of the project say the technology is still in its infancy, but estimate that one day projects like this could supply up to 20% of the UK’s power needs.

Renewable energy leader

Scotland is one of the biggest users of renewable energy in Europe. New figures have placed them fourth in the EU, with 54% of its electricity coming from renewable sources.

Electric cars could one day be charged in seconds, thanks to the University of Glasgow

electric car charger

The time it takes to charge an electric vehicle could be dropped from hours to just seconds, thanks to a new ‘flow battery system’ developed by the University of Glasgow.

For as long as electric cars have been part of the public conversation, there has always been one major hurdle putting many people off them – the time it takes to charge. Even the most efficient charging systems and batteries can take several hours to fully charge, as opposed to filling a petrol car which only takes a matter of seconds. That however could all be about to change.

‘Nanoscale battery molecules’

Chemistry researchers from the university have developed a hi-tech liquid containing ‘nanoscale battery molecules’. Put simply, the liquid is a sort of removable battery – so you can pump fresh, fully-charged liquid into your car while the old, depleted liquid is removed and taken away to be re-charged. This means you can effectively fill up your car in the same way you would with petrol (and in the same amount of time).

As well as proving electricity, the liquid can also provide hydrogen for hydrogen-powered vehicles, making it an extremely versatile sort of ‘dual fuel’.

hydrogen car
Hydrogen fuel cell cars, such as the Hyundai ix35 (pictured) could also benefit from the technology. Image source.

Environmental benefits

The new technology spells out great news not just for motorists, but for the environment too. Because the liquid stores energy effectively and can be charged away from the car, it can make use of renewable energy as and when it’s available, meaning less reliance on fossil fuels.

Professor Leroy Cronin, who worked on the project, said: “For future renewables to be effective high capacity and flexible energy storage systems are needed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in supply. Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could even have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity. Moreover, the very high energy density of our material could increase the range of electric cars, and also increase the resilience of energy storage systems to keep the lights on at times of peak demand.”

There’s no news on if or when the technology will be available for public use, but the future looks very promising!

400 megawatt hydro plant planned for Loch Ness

Loch Ness hydro plant

Plans are underway to build a 400MW pumped hydro scheme on the east shore of Loch Ness, capable of powering 400,000 homes.

The energy storage system would take excess electricity generated by wind farms and use it to pump water up to an elevated reservoir. The water can then be released at times of high demand, moving turbines and generating power on its way back down to the loch.

Once completed, the hydro plant will be able to provide 2.4GWh of storage capacity for the grid over a six hour period.

Energy storage has long been a challenge associated with renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, which don’t necessarily produce power when demand is highest.

Boost to the local economy

The proposed site is just south of Dores, a small town around 6 miles away from Inverness. The upper reservoir will blend into the natural geographic features from where it gets its name – Red John.

Hydro dam
The new project will join an existing hydro power station. Image source.

Intelligent Land Investments (ILI), the company behind the project, say that it will create jobs for up to 300 people.

Mark Wilson from ILI said: “Pumped storage hydro is the largest and cleanest form of energy storage that currently exists – and a key enabler in helping Scotland meet its green energy ambitions.”

“As well as dramatically improving our energy security, this transformational proposal is a fantastic opportunity for the community to benefit from the energy transition while helping turbo-charge Scotland’s decarbonisation efforts.”

The Red John project will join the existing Foyers hydro-electric power station, also situated on the east shore of Loch Ness.

Scotland sets new 90% carbon reduction target

Edinburgh

The Scottish government has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 90% by 2050. This exceeds the UK’s overall target of 80%, making it one of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world.

The Climate Change Bill

The Climate Change Bill, which was introduced last week, sets out to cut emissions by 90% compared to 1990 levels. The Scottish government says that the 90% target is “at the very limit of feasibility”, but that they are eager to push the target right up to 100% as soon as realistically possible. At this point the country would achieve “net-zero” emissions – where 100% of the carbon released into the atmosphere is captured or offset.

  • The Scottish government claims that the Climate Change Bill is the toughest and most ambitious in the world
  • Scotland will include a fair share of all international aviation and shipping in its targets
  • The targets will cover all greenhouse gasses – such as methane and nitrogen oxides – not just carbon dioxide
  • As soon as the technology exists to deliver the 100% target, it will be written into law

Scotland’s track-record

Scotland has an impressive track-record when it comes the climate change targets. The country has already reduced emissions by 38% since 1990 – Sweden and Finland are the only industrialised European nations that have done better.

Its unique climate and geology means that Scotland can generate large amounts of renewable energy, particularly from wind and hyrdo. In 2015, renewable sources accounted for over half of Scotland’s electricity consumption.

The Scottish Parliament building

Criticism

Some climate change campaigners have criticised the bill for not being ambitious enough, stating that the 100% target needs to be brought forward in order to meet the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Scottish ministers have pointed out that they took on independent advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change, and that the current target is at the limit of what is feasible right now.

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said that: “Our climate change bill sets out our commitment to reduce emissions by 100 per cent with ambitious interim targets which strengthen Scotland’s world-leading position on climate change.”

“Our 90 per cent target will be tougher even than the 100 per cent goal set by a handful of other countries, because our legislation will set more demanding, legally-binding, annual targets covering every sector of our economy.”

“By 2030, we will cut emissions by two-thirds and, unlike other nations, we will not use carbon offsetting, where other countries are paid to cut emissions for us, to achieve our goal.”

Wind power overtakes nuclear for a whole quarter

UK wind farms

For the first 3 months of 2018 the UK’s combined wind farms generated more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations, setting a new milestone for renewable energy.

Wind power provided 18.8% of the country’s electricity during the first three months of 2018, with only gas power providing more. This is the first time that wind power alone has beaten nuclear – wind and solar combined did overtake nuclear during the final quarter of 2017. This is the latest in a long line of positive steps for cheap electricity from renewable sources.

Western Link

It is thought that the recently built Western Link played a big role in achieving this milestone. The 262-mile long cable connects wind farms in Hunterston, Western Scotland to Connah’s Quay in North Wales, allowing electricity to be efficiently distributed throughout England & Wales as well as Scotland. Before the link was developed, Scottish wind farms often had to shut down as the National Grid couldn’t cope with the excess power.

Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK said “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy.”

The UK is a world leader in wind power, with over 8,000 wind turbines in various onshore and offshore locations around the country – the largest being Whitelee Wind Farm in western Scotland, with its 215 turbines and a total capacity of 539MW. As of the beginning of May 2018, UK wind farms had a total capacity of 19.2 gigawatts.

 

Top image: Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm (source).