Renewable energy giants Statkraft & GE clean tech may end power cuts

There’s a whole lot of technical know how, years of painstaking research and all manner of things you need to know about Stratkraft and GE installing the latter’s ‘Rotating Stabilizer’ technology in Scotland.

But the bottom line is a couple of big spinny wheels sited in Keith in Moray will make power to the grid more stable and get rid of CO2 emissions.

That’s right, clean energy making supplies more reliable and carbon free to run. Welcome to 2020 folks.

Norwegian firm Statkraft are no strangers to innovation. They are already leaders as Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy and have their sights set on helping decarbonise the UK’s power sector.

An office opened in Glasgow last year ahead of COP26. They know that this is a critical time for the energy sector, even in a country heading out the Brexit door.

Statkraft was awarded four stability contracts, two at Keith and two at Lister Drive by National Grid ESO earlier this year. GE Power Conversion will manufacture, and install two Rotating Stabilizer synchronous machines at Statkraft’s site in Keith, Moray.

Hailing it as ‘world leading’, they say it has the proven potential to stop blackouts and power cuts in the national grid such as those that crippled much of the UK around this time last year.

Ordinarily, spinning turbines in power stations which create emissions keep the grid up, using a frequency of around 50Hertz. It’s been like that for generations, but comes with its own issues, particularly in an evolving energy make-up.

To maintain ‘balance’ often renewable sources of energy – wind and solar for example – have to be stood down even when abundant, in order to maintain fossil fuel driven levels. This, they hint, could reverse that trend and put renewables first.

By leveraging its experience in rotating machine technology, they say GE’s Rotating Stabilizer solution provides a way of replacing the stability services provided by traditional thermal plant generation, but without CO2 emissions.

As a result, fossil fuel powered generation does not need to run, which allows more renewable generation to operate, providing secure electrical power at a lower cost to consumers.

Announcing the tie up, Managing Director Statkraft UK, David Flood said: “We are delighted to have reached this critical milestone in providing stability services to the grid. Our project at Keith builds on our electricity market and renewables expertise and helps Statkraft deliver our vision of being a renewable energy system integrator.”

Guy Nicholson, Head of Grid Integration at Statkraft UK., added: The Rotating Stabilizer solution provides a way to replace the inertia provided by traditional thermal plant generation but operating without carbon emissions.”

“We’re delighted to be using our innovation skills and vast experience of rotating machines to be supporting a lower carbon path to meet the UK’s energy needs” said Andy Cooper, Managing Director of GE’s Power Conversion UK business.

There’s much more at stake than meets the eye though. Cost, yes. Job creation and innovation too. But it could also see operation of the system go carbon free in just five years.

Julian Leslie, Head of Networks at National Grid ESO said the transition was among one of the best in the world. He said: “The GB electricity system is one of the most advanced in the world, both in terms of reliability and the levels of renewable power, and we’re really excited to be adding to that with this new approach to operating the grid.

“Our contracts for stability services with providers such as Statkraft are cheaper and greener, reducing emissions and saving money for electricity consumers. This approach is the first of its kind anywhere in the world and is a huge step forward in our ambition to be able to operate the GB electricity system carbon free by 2025.”

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