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.


  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.

7 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!

      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?


      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)


    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.


  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 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.


  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


    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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