Perth’s renewable ‘power station’ now controls 2,100-MW of wind and hydro energy

Turbine installation work at Dunmaglass wind farm.
Turbine installation work at Dunmaglass wind farm.

The Dunmaglass wind farm near Inverness was ‘energised’ at the end of last month, with the first power now being exported  from some of its newly constructed wind turbines.

Like other SSE wind and hydro assets, Dunmaglass is managed remotely by the Renewables Control Centre in Perth. This operates as a remote command centre, allowing SSE to manage the electricity from all its wind farms and hydro stations from one central hub.

“It’s almost like saying we are managing a giant renewables ‘power station’,” commented Martin MacLeod, Head of  the Renewable Operations Centre. He added:

“The addition of Dunmaglass to our portfolio of renewable assets now means we control over 2,100MW of renewables capacity. This makes us the second largest ‘generator control point’ in the UK, behind only Drax in Yorkshire, which manages the 3,906MW of power generated by its coal and biomass plant.

“So the amount of green energy we manage and provide to the nation is on the rise – and if we add the next round of renewable projects due for energisation in 2017 that capacity increases by a further 500MW to 2,600MW. 

“For the Renewable Operations Centre, the integration of each new asset is a complex but now well-practised event. We have important interlinked commissioning activities to ensure new plant is all safe, reliable and compliant with the various processes we need to adhere to. 

“National Grid also has to be satisfied that we, as the control point for that new generating asset, are ready to accept and react to its instructions to help support the electricity system. 

“Each of our wind and hydro assets must be able to react within two minutes of an instruction from National Grid. Successful execution of those instructions is critical in helping maintain balance of supply and demand, as well as supporting system voltage when required. At peak times we can receive over 500 instructions per day.

“While the portfolio is large, the diversity of it lends itself to operating in a number of different ways. Hydro can store water when electricity is not required. Pumped Storage can use excess electricity, which is cheaper, to store water for when the system needs it, and the response times of all our renewable assets can be offered as fast reacting services to National Grid. 

“Winter is now approaching and this is always a busy operational period.  Last year was reported by the Met Office as the sixth wettest year for the UK in the 100 year series and 2012, 2014 and 2015 all fall into the top six.

“Adding high winds and the potential for network disruption into the mix makes it all a challenging but fascinating business to be part of, for all of us.”

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