A giant battery will be built at the site of the UK’s largest wind farm.
The Whitelee facility uses 215 turbines to generate 539 megawatts (MW) of power, but until now has had no way to effectively store excess capacity.
That is now set to change after ministers approved plans to build a “super battery” at the site in East Renfrewshire.
The battery storage site will be the size of half a football pitch and will comprise 50MW of lithium-ion battery technology, which is the most cost-effective storage technology for renewable electricity.
Its planned storage capacity makes it the largest wind farm battery in the UK, capable of achieving full charge in less than an hour. It will be on standby to provide power to the National Grid, enhancing control and flexibility.
The battery can be fully discharging or used in bursts as and when required to keep the electricity network stable.
It will also enhance the capability of storing excess energy from wind generation at times when demand is low or wind is high – for instance at night, and released at time of high demand and lower wind.
Keith Anderson, Scottish Power chief executive, said: “This is a significant step forward in the road to baseload for renewable energy.
“We know that renewable energy generation needs to quadruple and we know that onshore wind is the cheapest form of green energy.
“By integrating storage technologies with onshore wind, we are blowing away one of the myths about renewable generation not being available when you need it. Natural resources like wind and solar are variable in their very nature, and by using a battery we can ensure we optimise our ability to use the resource most effectively.”
The battery facility will be constructed on vacant land within the Ardochrig substation compound which lies to the eastern edge of the existing wind farm site.
Installation work is expected to start early next year with the facility fully operational by the end of 2020.
Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP said: “Onshore wind provides about 70% of renewable electricity that we generate in Scotland at the moment so it’s a really big contributor to our energy mix.
If we can make that combination of technologies work really effectively, it helps overcome the intermittency issue that renewables have been accused of in the past and with the technologies combining together you get a huge contributor to our energy system but also one which is very efficient.
“It gives confidence in the market to other developers looking to bring projects forward and it helps to ultimately deliver lower prices to consumers.”