Battery hailed as potential breakthrough as Scotland stays in the spotlight on renewable energy

Battery hailed as potential breakthrough as Scotland stays in the spotlight on renewable energy

The small community-owned island of Gigha, three miles off the west coast of Kintyre in Scotland with a usually resident population of just around 160 people, could soon be the venue for a demonstration of a major breakthrough in battery power.

A U.K. government funded project is to install a vanadium redox flow battery on a wind farm on the island that is owned by the community.  redT (LON:RED) an AIM-listed energy storage technology company, seeks to demonstrate that vanadium redox flow is now commercially viable.

These are the first containerized, large-scale vanadium flow machines that have been manufactured under contract and deployed globally by redT. The company says that the technology will not degrade like conventional batteries and will last the lifetime of a wind or solar farm.

An interview in London yesterday with Scott McGregor, CEO of redT on whether renewable energy is about to become more reliable is available.

Prior to their arrival on the Isle of Gigha, these 15kW to 240kW energy storage machines have been tested since June by the utility company SSE plc (LON:SSE) at the Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Cumbernauld in Scotland. SSE plc is a U.K.-based company engaged in the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of electricity; in the production, storage, distribution and supply of gas, and in other energy-related services.

redT is installing and commissioning a 1.68-MWh system on the island that will be used to manage grid constraints associated with four wind turbines that are community-owned. After on-site testing, the system will be fully commissioned on the island's grid, the company said.

The company will be posting its results for the six months ended June 30 on Sept. 28, and the management team will hold a conference call for retail investors at 2.30pm on the day, it said in its notice of interim results to the London Stock Exchange (LON:LSE).

As renewable energy continues to rise in popularity, Scotland is grabbing the headlines at a time when the new U.K. government’s commitment is unclear – the funding for this two-and a-half year project was agreed by the energy department prior to the U.K. government’s reorganization in July.

Earlier this week Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland, officially unveiled the MeyGen Project, the world’s largest free stream tidal power project, at a ceremony held at the Nigg Energy Park (Nigg) in Scotland.

Three of MeyGen’s first batch of turbines are supplied by Germany’s Andritz (VIE:ANDR) and a fourth is being built for Atlantis Resources Limited (LON:ARL) by Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) of the United States.

The four 1.5MW turbines that make up Phase 1A weigh almost 200 tonnes each and have now been fully assembled, Atlantis said this week. They will be positioned on top of their foundation structures on the quayside at Nigg ready for deployment to the MeyGen site in the Pentland Firth. The turbines and their foundations will be transported to the site by the Neptune jack-up vessel operated by Geoseas, a subsidiary of the DEME Group.

“Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry. It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project. This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the U.K.’s future energy mix,” said Tim Cornelius, CEO of Atlantis Resources Limited at the unveiling ceremony.

It followed the MeyGen project’s successful connection to the 33kV Ness of Quoys distribution network in June 2016 after the installation of one of the longest underground 33kV power export cables in the U.K. by the network operator, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution plc.
Atlantis said it remains on track to deliver first power to the grid from MeyGen Phase 1A later this year, which will be a landmark event for the global marine power industry. When completed, the MeyGen project will consist of 269 turbines and generate enough energy to power 175,000 UK homes, the company said.

“I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this. MeyGen is set to invigorate the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise here in Scotland that would otherwise be lost overseas. Highly skilled operation and maintenance jobs will also need to be carried out locally, providing strong local employment opportunity for rural areas,” said Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland.

“There is no doubt that the eyes of the world are on this project which is why the Scottish Government’s investment is so crucially important,” she said.

But she added: “It is absolutely vital that the U.K. Government honors its earlier commitment to provide a ring-fenced allocation for marine energy in its renewables support scheme. They must tackle the current uncertainty that exists before they cause irreparable damage to the long term prospects for the sector.”

Dina Medland is an independent writer, editor and commentator with a strong focus on issues around corporate governance, ethics, the workings of the boardroom and sustainable business. She is on the team of contributors to @ForbesEurope and is an ex-Financial Times staff member who has been a regular contributor in recent years. Further details about her background and a portfolio of work – including her commercially sponsored blog ‘Board Talk’ are available on her website


Originally published on September 16, 2016