Isle of Wight Electricity Network Constraints
The electrical network on the Isle of Wight suffers from a constrained connection to the National Grid. The existing infrastructure is unable to accommodate any new generation because, during peak solar periods in the summer, energy generated from solar farms reaches the limit of the network capacity.
Wight Community Energy wish to try and change this situation and are investigating two opportunities to increase the capacity for renewable energy on the Island.
East Cowes Power Station
The gas turbine power station in East Cowes has a guaranteed (firm) connection to the mainland and the National Grid. The power station seldom operates and when it does it is used to help stabilise the electrical network on the mainland, with no direct benefit to the Isle of Wight. Due to the firm connection, this means that the power station takes up capacity on the network, which denies capacity to greener forms of energy generation.
Wight Community Energy have been granted funding to investigate the operating regime of the East Cowes Power Station and model the feasibility of replacing the ageing gas turbines with modern energy storage solutions or securing some form of capacity sharing arrangement.
As with other solar farms on the Isle of Wight, Homestead is subject to curtailment without recourse in network emergencies and for scheduled network maintenance, resulting in unpredictable and sometimes substantial loss of income to the community project. In most cases WCE believe it isn’t necessary to shut down completely, but merely to reduce output to the network limit from moment to moment, but this facility is not yet implemented by SSEN, who impose a “trip” arrangement (on or off) due to the lack of sophistication of their monitoring equipment.
Wight Community Energy have secured funding to seek legal/technical advice on starting a dialogue and framing the arguments to SSEN for a more sophisticated monitoring arrangement and the potential for a community owned battery storage system, supporting increased renewable energy generation on the Isle of Wight.
Independent Expert Advice
Wight Community Energy appointed Ricardo Energy and Environment to provide an up-to-date, independent view of the network constraints that exist on the Isle of Wight. The completed report is a mixture of good news and bad. The bad news is that the report confirms that there are no magic bullets or other quick fixes for the problem. The good news is that we now have a firmer understanding the nature of the problems we face and a sound basis for further interaction with SSEN.
Please follow these links to read Ricardo’s completed reports.