Cruachan's 'hollow mountain' wins six-year National Grid deal to support renewable power

Drax Group’s Cruachan hydro power station in Argyll and Bute has won a six-year contract to help stabilise the National Grid’s energy supply and support renewables.

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 11:45 am
Drax's hollow mountain scheme will provide services such as inertia and reactive power to the National Grid. Picture: Liam Anderstrem

The energy operator’s “hollow mountain” scheme will provide services such as inertia, which keeps the system stable, and reactive power, which helps move power around the grid.

Under the deal, one of the four turbines at the 440-megawatt Cruachan plant will no longer generate power but will instead only be used to provide the services needed to support the energy supply system.

System services such as inertia and reactive power were readily available in the past due to the number of large "spinning" power stations on the electricity system, but the rise of non-synchronous generators such as solar, wind and interconnectors, mean these services are now more important and have to be procured separately.

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One of Cruachan's four turbines will no longer generate power. Picture: Contributed

Andy Koss, chief executive at Drax Generation, said: “Provision of these crucial services is central to Drax’s purpose of enabling a zero carbon, lower cost energy future.

"Our strategic aim is to be a leading provider of system services which support the deployment of more renewable power – it could also help to bring us a step closer to our ambition to become a carbon negative company by 2030.”

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies 5 per cent of the country’s electricity needs.

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