Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020

The diagram illustrates my 5 to 10-year plan (was for “2020” when first published in 2015, but for 2021 to 2026 may be more realistic in 2016), featuring

“Wind” – wind turbines (and other intermittent renewables such as solar) to a total 42GW maximum power (supplies 6GW at 14.3% power) – (8GW already installed, in 2016) + 34GW cost £51 (onshore prices) to £85 billion (offshore prices).

Total pumped-storage power – 6GW, energy stored 216GWh, – cost £5.8 to £8 billion – illustrated as two components –
* “Pumped-storage” (new hydro-turbo-pumps, new reservoirs)
* “Hydro + pumped-storage” (existing conventional hydro upgraded with new hydro-pumps, bigger reservoirs)

“Peterhead gas” – burning hydrogen gas (H2) from power to gas
“Longannet bio-mass” – 2.4 GW (upgraded with handling for bio-mass fuel such as wood)
“Cockenzie gas CCGT” – 1GW (new build) – H2, cost less than £1 billion 1.
Hunterston B nuclear (as today)
Torness nuclear (as today)

Such a plan – total cost £60 – £100 billion, £12 – £20  billion/year for 5 years (or £6 to £10 billion/year for 10 years) can be afforded as UK deficit spending, – offers
* 100% renewable power generation, even during periods of no-wind
* The option to decommission the nuclear power stations at a future date as and when convenient
* Exceptional flexibility to cope with all circumstances
* No requirement to import power from England
* Up to 36GW of intermittent wind power for export, power-to-gas etc.

Scotland Electricity Generation for the years 2010, 2015 and a plan for 2020
Vertical Bar Chart
Vertical axis – installed electricity generating capacity in MegaWatts
Columns for the years 2010, 2015 (actual) and 2020 (planned) illustrating the main power stations or generating methods for each year.

Diagram adapted from one by Euan Mearns of Energy Matters (and no, I am not he!)

Modelling (see next post) proves that this plan copes well with a 92-day period of low wind recorded in summer 2014.

Notes

  1. I should mention the smarter option of localising multiple smaller electrolysis, hydrogen gas storage and gas-fired power stations each of which to be sited in association with the larger wind farms.
    Localised power-to-gas with gas-to-power has the distinct advantage of being able to use much more of the available surplus wind power above and beyond the limit of surplus power which the grid has the capacity to transmit.
    Possibly the way to invest in wind farm on-site power-to-gas and gas-to-power would be to offer grants and subsidies to wind farm operators to install such plant on site.
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8 thoughts on “Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020”

    1. Thank you very much for your interest and as it happens, the first ever comment on this Scottish Scientist blog on WordPress.com!

      Check out my 2nd post here – “Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power”.

      What I would intend to happen when there is a lot of wind is that the following get wind power in this order of priority

      1) Customer demand
      2) Pump up water into the upper reservoirs
      3) Export
      4) Turbines controlled to decrease the power they are generating

      “constraint/curtailment payments”?

      I must say I am somewhat baffled and amused at the whole strange notion of paying wind turbine operators NOT to generate power! I don’t know why they are not automatically controlled to power down when their power is not needed?

      Other non-wind turbine generators have their power control linked to the grid frequency and power down as the grid frequency increases. Why don’t wind turbines have something similar?

      I’ve no idea what their lame excuse is for not having figured out a solution to this already. Perhaps someone else can tell us?

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      1. Two problems. When wind blows in Scotland it likely blows in England so you won’t be able to export it. Also there is lack of connectivity. A 2.2GW connector is between Scotland and Lancasshire is supposed to open in 2016 at a cost of £1 billion and there are two to Norway planned I believe but not building. Ther £800 million Coire Glas pumped storage scheme was “consented” in 2013 but not building as it does not get renewable subsidy.

        The constraint/curtailment payment system was set up to get people to invest in turbines. I am not sure how long it runs for – certainly many years yet.

        The capacity scheme is needed to keep fossil fuel systems on line because otherwise they are not economiuc. Longannet did not win the “auction” for this and will close in 2016. Killingholme (0.9GW) a new gas station also did not win (or not enough) and is being mothballed.

        It’s all ruinously expensive and chaotic. I would not be surprised to see Longannet reprieved and the new carbon tax reduced (i.e. things fall apart)

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    2. There will be no shortage of problems Peter but no insurmountable problems I trust.

      When the wind is also blowing in England then we may find a market for our electricity further away, connections permitting.

      But at times of high wind, we may have very much more than another 2.2GW available for export. For example, the latest revision of my plan specifies a maximum wind power of 42GW leaving up to 36GW of surplus intermittent power available.

      What surplus we can’t export then we can put to good use in other less efficient energy storage schemes – such as power-to-gas where water H2O is electrolysed into hydrogen gas and oxygen gas and the hydrogen produced is collected and pressurised for use as a fuel.

      Hydrogen gas used to be a constituent of coal or town gas, the domestic gas supply, before the days of natural gas from the North Sea. So hydrogen from power-to-gas may again one day be part of the fuel gas mix in our domestic gas supply.

      In this paper
      Scottish Renewables – Pumped Storage – Position Paper

      Scottish renewables urge UK investment into pumped-storage hydro schemes like the one planned and approved for Coire Glas, though I’m of the opinion that the Coire Glas site could and should be used to build a bigger water reservoir which can store more energy because we’ll need more than the 30GWh which the SSE is planning for.

      It is expensive Peter but there’s no need for £12.5 billion per year of more deficit spending to ruin anyone, least of all the UK because that’s less than 2% of the annual UK budget – but rather such deficit spending would provide a much needed boost to economic activity and in the long run provide the country with much needed cheaper energy which could be the saviour of the economy.

      I do hope you are right about Longannet being reprieved because it is certainly needed for Scotland’s security of energy supply and could have a future beyond 2020 burning non-fossil fuel, renewable biomass as a stand-by power station, as specified in my plan.

      What’s somewhat “chaotic” is the UK’s threat to Longannet via unfair National Grid transmission charges imposed on all the old Scottish power stations who are being forced to subsidise the new grid work required for all the new wind turbines installed in Scotland.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As well as describing the vertical axis of the chart, would you please also explain the red horizontal line at just over 5GW of installed capacity (Scottish peak demand?). What happens to this with a switch to heat pumps and further transport electrification or is this just insignificant in a 4 year time frame or balanced by efficiency improvements offeseting demand increases?
    RE handling the of the 92 day lull in wind, summer 2014:
    There is no mention of solar , tidal (stream), wave or AD (biomethane) in the chart. I appreciate that Scotland is not the most productive place for solar PV (except in temperature terms), it does have one very big advantage in balancing the mix as it is the only intermittent renewable with a summer seasonal bias, counter to the seasonal biases of wind, hydro and wave resources. AD biomethane is of course storable / dispatchable and tidal stream deployment from 2016 onwards might start to appear in the 2020 bar?

    I’d be interested to know if you had any numbers on the cost balance of power-to-gas (for Peterhead) vs. a (1.4GW) connector to Norway’s hydro resources, effectively increasing the Scottish hydro storage beyond what you have already shown. Ditto, other storage options that could go from the current demo plants to significant deployments (in Scotland) e.g. liquid air co-located with industrial plant (using waste heat to boost round trip efficiency) and Isentropic. That could go on ad infinitum (V2G) organic flow batteries…) but possibly not mature or scalable enough for the 2020 time frame.

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  2. Alternative: seek out a proposed bridge to an island. Replace the bridge with a few dams, and install hydro turbines. The cost is likely lower than the bridge, but adds energy storage for free. The dams need shallow water (less than 30m?), and the lower reservoir needs “deep” water, at least 30m. The sea is then the upper reservoir. Several GWh are feasible, depending on conditions. Sea areas are less intrusive than land areas, but still environmentally sensitive. Suitable depths can be gleaned at http://www.4coffshore.com/offshorewind/ Given the many Scottish islands, a suitable combination of bridge and enclosed water is likely somewhere, perhaps Sound of Mull (bothering the ferry between Oban-Uist), with a bit of tidal boost. A dam across a fjord will probably be unpopular, maybe Sunart. A local pumped storage complements larger storage in Norway by differences in trade patterns.

    The 240 MW Rance Tidal is a somewhat different type than a pumped storage, but it has run turbines in salt water for decades.

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  3. An open letter to the Scottish Government, Energy Strategy Consultation

    I am a Scottish scientist replying to the Scottish government’s Energy Strategy Consultation (this email is for publication if you wish) which I am sorry to say is not very inspiring because of your “Scottish Energy Strategy – the future of energy in Scotland” document‘s fundamental scientific errors and fraudulent nonsense which make me lose confidence in the people who are managing this consultation.

    I really think it would be better to appoint someone else to start again with a new energy strategy document, this time produced by someone competent to the task.

    For example, your “VISION for 2050” is fatally flawed because of your reliance on “Carbon Capture and Storage” which I take to be a fraudulent exercise by the fossil fuel industry.

    Typically, with CCS fraud, most of the carbon dioxide which may be captured won’t be stored for long before it is sneakily vented to the atmosphere by cowboy operators because there will be a profit in doing so. Leaking CO2 will always be cheaper than storing CO2. Storage can’t be policed. Indeed the fossil fuel industry has no intention of policing CCS.

    The CCS fraud is simply promoted to serve as a slogan and an excuse for ignorant government ministers to repeat as per in your “Scottish Energy Strategy – the future of energy in Scotland” document, while continuing to support the business-as-usual fossil fuel industry and dodging valid criticisms of fossil fuel burning causing global warming and environmental damage.

    Promoting the Carbon Capture and Storage fraud is obviously the wrong priority for energy planning in Scotland.

    I have comments on your numbered points, as follows.

    67. The draft climate change plan makes the same wrong claims about CCS. They are wrong. You are wrong about CCS. 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

    75. Hydrogen is not a “hydrocarbon” (there’s no carbon in hydrogen) therefore hydrogen should not be introduced as such.

    84. “Fuel cells” which use “natural gas” as their fuel are still at an early stage of development whereas hydrogen fuel cells are well established. Therefore it makes no scientific sense to propose starting off with natural gas fuel cells and then running them off hydrogen.

    Perhaps you are confusing the fact that natural gas BURNING thermal generators (not “fuel cells”) can also be run by burning hydrogen gas?

    Don’t confuse your gas-burning generators with your fuel cells. You sound like you don’t know what you are talking about.

    The following sentence is once again entirely WRONG!

    "Hydrogen gas at scale will most likely require natural gas (methane) as the source
    feedstock and as such in order to be low carbon, carbon capture and storage
    facilities will be a necessary system requirement."

    WRONG! The great potential renewable use of hydrogen is not making it from natural gas but by making it from water via electrolysis powered by wind, solar or other renewable generators.

    What you propose with the so-called “carbon capture and storage” (which doesn’t work and is fraud) is fossil fuel hydrogen, not renewable, not sustainable and that too is a FRAUD.

    The whole section titled

    "SUPPORTING THE DEMONSTRATION AND COMMERCIALISATION OF CARBON
    CAPTURE AND STORAGE AND CO2 UTILISTAION"

    is utterly wrong, unscientific, an invitation to fraud and it should be deleted. That’s points 86 to 91. Bin it. CCS is a fraud.

    Really, the Scottish government would do better for an energy strategy by binning your entire document and by publishing and promoting a link to my Scottish Scientist blog.

    My ideas for a renewable energy strategy are more scientific, more realistic and more ambitious than your so-called “Scottish Energy Strategy” which is a disgrace to Scotland I am sorry to say.

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    1. Additional comments which I had added to my submission (on 2017-05-12) to the Scottish Government’s energy strategy consultation were –

      “1 . What are your views on the priorities presented in Chapter 3 for energy supply over the coming decades? In answering, please consider whether the priorities are the right ones for delivering our vision.
      1. What are your views on the priorities presented for meeting our energy supply needs?”

      Thank you for the opportunity to respond to this consultation.
      Your 2050 VISION is NOT AMBITIOUS ENOUGH where it says
      “with the equivalent of half of all energy consumed delivered from renewable sources by 2030;”
      that’s disappointingly unambitious and certainly not world-leading considering that many countries in the world already produce 99% of their electricity from renewable (mostly hydroelectric) sources.
      Admittedly, 100% of all energy, including heat and transport is more of a challenge but certainly possible.
      Scotland could aim for 100%+ at the best possible speed aiming to become a renewable energy EXPORTER to England and beyond.

      3. What are your views on the proposed target to supply the equivalent of 50% of all Scotland’s energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030? In answering, please consider the ambition and feasibility of such a target.
      What are your views on the proposed 2030 target of 50% of Scotland’s energy consumption being met by renewable energy?:”

      “50% by 2030” is a depressingly unambitious target and certainly not world-leading considering that many countries in the world already produced 99% of their electricity from renewable (mostly hydroelectric) sources.
      Admittedly, 100% of all energy, including heat and transport is more of a challenge but certainly possible.
      Scotland must aim for 100%+ as soon as possible and become a renewable energy EXPORTER to England and beyond.
      I don’t see any reason in principle why Scotland one day could not be producing 200% of our total energy needs and exporting the other 100%.
      It is possible though ambitious to be sure that if my Strathdearn Pumped-storage hydro scheme proposal (link follows) is ever constructed – which would allow Scotland to offer energy storage facilities to neighbouring countries – then Scotland could be exporting (and importing) as much as 30 times (or 3000%) electricity – maybe 5 or 6 times (500% to 600%) as much energy of all kinds as we use ourselves.
      World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
      Norway’s ideal mountains and fjords is the obvious place to build colossal international or continental pumped-storage schemes to serve most of north and eastern Europe and Norway has already begun to serve for example Denmark and interconnectors to Britain are planned too.
      Nevertheless Scotland based pumped-storage is more conveniently located to serve Scotland’s own needs for energy storage and those of England, Wales and Ireland too.
      So Norway will have no shortage of international customers for its pumped-storage hydro energy storage but it remains to be seen how much of that international business Norway wants to bid for and doesn’t want to bid for and therefore how many business opportunities would be left for Scotland to exploit.

      “4 What are your views for the development of an appropriate target to encourage the full range of low and zero carbon energy technologies?
      What steps can be taken to make Scotland the first place in the UK to see commercial development of ‘subsidy-free’ renewables?: “

      I don’t think simply setting targets is sufficiently encouraging.
      What would be more encouraging would be the Scottish (or UK) government developing a public sector “Green Investment Bank” investing £10 billion a year in Scottish renewable energy funded by the central bank from additional government borrowing.
      The investment is what is really required to develop technologies. Targets are useless without money to invest.
      Also we don’t really need to have “the full range” including every possible technology.
      For example, many countries have achieved 99% of their electricity from just one technology – hydroelectric.
      In Scotland, we could exploit a number of key technologies – hydro including pumped-storage hydro, wind, solar, biomass, tidal. There’s no need to use every technology just because in theory we could.
      So the Scottish government should really be confronting the limitations on its own borrowing powers which it had imposed on itself by signing the Fiscal Framework Agreement of February 2016.
      Setting a political target to summon up the political wisdom and courage to rip up that bad agreement and press for a better fiscal framework which would allow the Scottish government to borrow to invest in a green bank would be the better target.

      “5 What ideas do you have about how the onshore wind industry can achieve the commercial development of onshore wind in Scotland without subsidy?”
      What are your views on the future of thermal generation in Scotland, with a particular focus on repowering Scotland’s existing thermal generation sites?: “

      Allow siting of the largest possible turbines at the most advantageous, windiest sites, typically atop mountain ridges where they can be seen for miles around.
      Don’t run scared of NIMBY opposition from mountaineers or hill-walkers or national parks or sites of natural heritage or bird lovers or the likes of Donald Trump.
      Be bold. For example, give permission to erect some really huge wind turbine farms atop the Cairngorm national park mountains which offer the windiest sites in Scotland.
      Bold siting of wind turbines may require a government advertising campaign to promote wind turbines as a site of Scottish pride so as to thwart NIMBY campaigns.
      Also we can’t have wind farm developments being held up in the courts for too long.
      The Scottish government should impose specially punitive court fees for actions which would delay economically vital work, which would serve as a lucrative tax-raising measure for the government if any billionaire-funded lawyers dared to object.

      “6 What are your views on the potential future for Scotland’s decommissioned thermal generation sites?
      What are your views on the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s energy mix and what can government do to support this?: “

      Longannet should be recommissioned as a biomass burning power station, with an equivalent maximum power generation capacity as the site had as a coal-fired power station.
      It goes without saying that the biomass furnaces should be fit for the purpose of rapidly changing power requirements to balance the intermittent availability of wind power.
      There might still be a case for the planned CCGT power station at Cockenzie but with a view to burning hydrogen gas from electrolysis though perhaps the better alternative to one big central CCGT power station would multiple smaller “farm-scale” hydrogen powered generators (either CCGT or hydrogen-fuel cell) situated at wind farms which offer certain advantages to do with utilising surplus wind power that the grid is unable to transmit to a central power station.

      “7 What ideas do you have about how we can develop the role of hydrogen in Scotland’s energy mix?
      What are your views on the on the four priority areas for a transformation in energy use?: “

      I am very ENTHUSIASTIC about the future prospects for cheap hydrogen gas produced from electrolysis powered by surplus wind power.
      However, I WARN that the notion of low-carbon dioxide emission production of hydrogen gas from natural gas is fatally FLAWED not least because of the false hopes placed in fossil fuel+CCS which in my opinion CANNOT guarantee permanent carbon dioxide storage.
      Hydrogen gas from electrolysis would be more cost effectively produced –
      * anywhere on the grid using only cheaper off-peak electricity, at times of high wind and low demand
      * locally at wind farm sites, using farm-scale electrolysis plant making use of only surplus wind power that otherwise would be wasted when generation had to be constrained or curtailed because the local grid cannot transmit the surplus power off-site (either because there was no more demand for the wind power anywhere on the grid or when the local connection to the grid was already transmitting at its full power rating).
      Hydrogen gas produced from electrolysis at wind farm sites could either be stored on-site and used as an energy store to generate power at times of low wind or piped into the gas supply network to heat our homes etc.

      “8 What are your views on the priorities presented in Chapter 4 for transforming energy use over the coming decades? In answering, please consider whether the priorities are the right ones for delivering our vision.
      What are you views on the specific actions identified under each priority area?: “

      Hydrogen fuel-celled vehicles would be my recommendation for the technology to invest in to power road transport vehicles in future. The range of hydrogen vehicles is longer and the refuelling time quicker when compared to battery only electric vehicles.
      I praise very highly the successful Aberdeen hydrogen bus project.

      “9 What are your views on the actions for Scottish Government set out in Chapter 4 regarding transforming energy use? In answering, please consider whether the actions are both necessary and sufficient for delivering our vision.
      What are your views on how best to reflect the EU ambition to implement a EU wide 30% energy efficiency target to 2030?:
      SUPPORTING THE INTRODUCTION OF VIABLE, LOW CARBON ALTERNATIVES ACROSS ALL MODES OF TRANSPORT “

      The Aberdeen public transport hydrogen bus project should be rolled out Scotland-wide (and indeed Britain wide) which would provide the necessary national hydrogen refuelling stations infrastructure which would encourage the switch from fossil fuels to hydrogen pollution-free road transport of all kinds – private and commercial transport included.
      Hydrogen powered transport is my recommendation but I acknowledge that battery only vehicles have their supporters too.
      Governments must as a priority invest in the viable, non-polluting public transport alternatives and with tax and subsidy incentives encourage the transition to completely non-polluting road transport.
      It goes without saying that all trains should be electrified.

      “13 What are your views on the idea of a Government-owned energy company to support the development of local energy? In answering, please consider how a Government-owned company could address specific market failure or add value.
      What role do you see for a potential Government owned energy company that would add value to the current landscape supporting the development of local energy?:”

      I think what the Scottish government really needs to do is to run the National Grid in Scotland.
      The National Grid as run from the UK has disadvantaged Scottish power generation by adding additional transmission charges because we are “too far north” from the South of England.
      Also the UK national grid have been giving the wrong incentives to generators – payments to wind farm operators to curtail or constrain generation at times of high winds instead of incentives to build energy storage facilities and discouraging with fines any supply of unwanted power at very windy times.
      The UK National Grid has been privatised and is supposed to be regulated but I think this isn’t working well, especially not for Scotland.
      For many reasons, a Scottish National Grid is what is really needed, not a private company but a public service run by the Scottish government.

      “14 What are your views on the idea of a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond to allow savers to invest in and support Scotland’s renewable energy sector? In answering, please consider the possible roles of both the public and private sectors in such an arrangement.
      What are your views on the need for a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond, the potential structure, and the role of both the public and private sector in such an arrangement?: “

      It’s a government responsibility to invest using its own borrowing powers – to borrow from its own central bank, interest free, with no repayments expected and the borrowing simply added to the national debt.
      The Scottish government must really focus on securing for itself those borrowing powers – up to I recommend a minimum limit of at least 8% of GDP – allowing for up to another £10 billion a year of Scottish government borrowing for investment.
      My concern is that the notion of a “Scottish Renewable Energy Bond” is a Scottish government without borrowing powers that it has failed to secure via a fiscal framework agreement, trying to dodge its responsibility to borrow to invest in the renewable energy sector, if necessary by repudiating the existing fiscal framework agreement and making a political issue of the UK’s refusal to offer the Scottish government a new and better fiscal framework agreement with substantially enhanced borrowing powers as I suggest.
      Really there is no good excuse for a bad fiscal framework agreement that doesn’t allow for the Scottish government to borrow to invest as necessary.
      Now such matters are not for the Energy minister alone but the fiscal framework is a matter ultimately for the First and Deputy First Ministers and the Finance and Economy Secretaries.
      Really it is not acceptable for any of those ministers to agree with a fiscal framework which does not allow for the necessary and sufficient borrowing powers.

      “15 What ideas do you have about how Scottish Government, the private sector and the public sector can maximise the benefits of working in partnership to deliver the 2050 vision for energy in Scotland?
      How can Scottish Government maximise the benefit of working in partnership with the public and private sector bodies?: “

      Well clearly, we need a Scottish government with an energy minister and advisers who
      a) don’t have a fatally flawed vision which includes CCS
      b) have the money to invest to get it done
      that’s £ billions a year, which means a new fiscal framework via either a renegotiation with the UK Treasury or a new Scottish £ currency and a Scottish central bank to borrow from.

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