Scottish company questions reports of recent UK coal-free electricity generation, proposing pumped storage hydro solution to reliance on ‘out-sourced coal powered generation’ through European interconnectors
Last week the UK celebrated the first coal free electricity fortnight since the 1800s. However it is clear that the country used coal-generated electricity from Germany and Netherlands during that time due to reliance on Interconnectors, the sub-sea cables which import and export electricity.
Mark Wilson CEO of ILI Group said:
“While the coal-free UK generation of electricity is a massive achievement, we need to be aware that coal-fired power imported from Europe was still being used to power this country.
“We eliminated coal-powered generation from within the UK – not because we didn’t need the power, but because carbon-taxing in the UK had made coal-fired production unprofitable at the market price over the past two weeks.
“However, this led us to be reliant on interconnectors with Europe where coal generation is not subject to the same level of carbon taxation. In other words we outsourced our coal-powered generation to the Netherlands and Germany
“As a strategy to address global CO2 emissions it’s easy to see how this is a flawed and why we need our own solutions rather than reliance on interconnectors. This problem is only going to grow as reliance on renewables increases, with the need for back-up to protect against intermittency.
Mr Wilson, whose company is developing pumped storage hydro schemes to help meet that challenge, said: “With our 2GW of pumped storage hydro and other proposed schemes we will create the environment for better utilisation and larger deployment of renewable generation, reducing reliance on imports from European interconnectors.”
Pumped Storage Hydro allows the Grid to store energy that cannot be absorbed naturally by consumers during times of peak wind or solar generation. It does this by using this energy to pump water from a lower reservoir to a top reservoir. Here the water can be held until times of demand where it is released to the lower reservoir through turbines generating electricity like a conventional hydro plant, this process can be repeated as required. It is essentially a giant water battery.
Former UK Energy Minister, Brian Wilson, said:
“From every perspective, it makes sense to develop our own solutions to storage rather than go for the easy answer of interconnectors, which essentially means taking whatever we get through a pipeline. That may do nothing for UK carbon reduction targets and certainly does nothing for UK manufacturing.
“Throughout the world, 95 per cent of storage capacity comes from hydro. It is difficult to see any rational reason for not allowing an established technology with which we are very familiar, and which can give a huge boost to manufacturing, to play its part in Scotland and the UK”
ILI Group have over 2GW of Pump-storage Hydro in the pipeline with their first 450MW development Red John at Loch Ness currently in planning, with 2 more projects planned.