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Grid alert signals need for energy storage capacity

National Grid ESO recently issued an electricity margin notice (EMN). While this is routinely done to alert energy generators of the need for more electricity supply, it indicates a requirement for greater storage capacity in the UK’s growing wind power sector.

Wind power has become increasingly competitive thanks to advances in technology, economies of scale and specialist lubricants like the Mobil SHC 320 WT gear oil for wind turbines. However, an ongoing criticism is its reliance on weather conditions. The recent EMN appears to be due to cold, calm air conditions impacting wind power generation, combined with a number of nuclear and gas plants being offline for maintenance.

National Grid ESO announced in a tweet:

“We’re continuing to explore measures to further increase our buffer of spare capacity. The tight margins on the electricity system are the result of a number of factors including the weather, demand for electricity and the availability of generators.”

While a blackout was easily avoided by firing up coal-fired power plants, the incident points to a need to supplement wind power generation with more storage capacity, so power can be accumulated in periods of favourable weather conditions and low demand for supply in periods of low wind and high demand.

This may come in the form of battery technology, but various other solutions are being experimented with, such as using excess wind power to produce green hydrogen that can later be burned as a clean fuel in generators.

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