First phase of stability pathfinders delivered
5 Apr 2023 - 4 minute read
- All 12 units contracted under the ESO’s first Stability Pathfinder are now operational, marking a significant step to reaching the ESO’s 2025 zero-carbon operation ambition.
- These units deliver inertia to the network, an important component to managing a national electricity network which is normally produced by fossil fuel power stations.
- All 12 synchronous compensators are zero-carbon units thereby assisting the transition to a zero carbon system.
- Overall these units are expected to deliver up to £128million in consumer savings over their lifetime and to reduce CO2 emissions by around 6 million tonnes.
As part of the ESO’s legal separation from the National Grid Group in 2019 the ESO announced a new ambition, to be able by 2025 to operate for the first time, a 100% zero carbon national electricity transmission network.
To deliver this ambition the ESO established Stability Pathfinders to support the development and delivery of new technologies to generate important system characteristics, such as inertia (the kinetic energy stored in synchronous machines that allows the network to withstand sudden changes in system frequency).
Previously these system characteristics were only available from large power stations such as Nuclear, Coal and Gas as a by-product of generating electricity, meaning that fossil fuels from Coal and Gas power stations needed to be burned to generate inertia.
By using new alternatives such as synchronous compensators we can now replicate the creation and storage of inertia in these units, reducing the number of fossil fuel power stations that need to always be available to deliver inertia, preventing the network from operating at 100% zero carbon.
By separating inertia generation from the process of generating electricity we can also improve the flexibility of the network, allowing more renewables and other zero-carbon generating technologies to operate at any given time.
With the delivery of the final unit of this phase of the Stability Pathfinders, these units are expected to deliver up to £128million in consumer savings over their lifetime and to reduce CO2 emissions by around 6 million tonnes.
As set out by the ESO’s Operability Strategy Report, the delivery of new sources of inertia and other system characterises via the 3 phases of the Stability Pathfinder project are actively contributing to the delivery of the ESO’s 2025 ambition.
Julian Leslie, Head of Networks, ESO said:
“The delivery of all twelve units involved in phase one of our stability pathfinders is an important milestone in delivering our ambition to be able to operate the network with zero carbon from 2025.
Alongside our other pathfinders, today’s news marks a significant achievement in reaching this milestone, which will reduce the cost and carbon emissions of operating the national electricity network.”
Ian Kinnaird, Scottish Assets Director, Drax
“We’re proud to be able to provide essential services to the National Grid ESO, playing an important role in maintaining grid stability whilst helping the UK meet its net zero targets.
“Pumped storage hydro is vital to strengthening the UK’s energy security by enabling more homegrown renewable electricity to come online, cutting the need to import power or fossil fuels from abroad.
“We are currently progressing plans to expand our Cruachan facility and create 600 MW more pumped storage hydro capacity, as part of our commitment to investing in innovative solutions to decarbonise the UK.”
Guy Nicholson, Head of Greener Grid Parks, Statkraft
“The completion of National Grid ESO’s first Stability Pathfinder phase is a moment to be celebrated, and I’m delighted that Statkraft’s two operational Greener Grid Park sites at Keith and Lister Drive are playing a major part in the delivery of a greener, secure, and stable grid. Achieving a renewable powered net-zero electricity system is now within our reach, and with five further grid stability projects under development in England, Scotland and Wales, Statkraft will continue to play a leading role in making it happen.”
Scott Keen, Chief Commercial Officer, Triton Power
“Triton Power’s conversion at Deeside Power Station from retired CCGT to synchronous compensator has been successfully operating for almost 2 years providing essential stability services to the National Grid. This world first project optimises the technological and engineering ingenuity required to transition to Net Zero in a cost effective way. The recycling of Deeside CCGT is the first in a development pipeline at Triton Power to modify existing assets, and adopt new technologies, to reduce the carbon intensity of the UK power sector”
Mike Lockett, UK Country Chairman and Group Chief Commercial Officer Power, Uniper
“We are immensely proud to see the synchronous condenser units up and running at our Grain and Killingholme power station sites.
Uniper is providing services that have a vital role in helping keep the British electricity system secure, stable and at the right frequency, enabling more solar and wind power to come online as the UK transitions to a net zero carbon future. Uniper is now delivering all of the vital stability services it has been contracted to supply to National Grid ESO under phase 1 of its Stability Pathfinder to 2026, putting us at the forefront of this market.
Our investment to deliver this innovative service runs alongside our ambitious decarbonisation strategy to make our European power generation assets carbon neutral by 2035 – by refuelling with hydrogen or biofuels, or retrofitting carbon capture technology.”