February: 12 for 21

Innovative thinking wins a Chairman’s Global Excellence Award

The team at the Lochaber hydro-electric plant and aluminium smelter in Scotland developed an innovative solution to reducing CO2 in their operations, earning them a Chairman’s Global Excellence Award win in the CN30 category.

Working closely with business energy supplier Marble Power, the Lochaber team successfully entered Lochaber’s hydro plant in the UK’s balancing mechanism. It resulted in a first-year cost saving of around £2m and a reduction in the average CO2 content of grid power absorbed by the plant.

This new operating model works by anticipating periods when the Scottish grid over-produces wind power and bids to absorb power, reducing National Grid’s need to pay wind owners to curtail generation. In this way, the site is paid to absorb power and retains water in Loch Treig. That water can then be released later, allowing the site to either avoid importing more expensive power or earning extra income by exporting to the grid. The site’s unique combination of water storage, generation and steady load have been turned into what is, in terms of ‘discharge duration’, the largest battery operating on the UK system.

Before this innovation, the Lochaber site had been powered by hydropower through the winter, then by a combination of grid and hydropower through the summer months. Since adopting the new operating mode, the site is able to run through the summer with less reliance on grid power, making it more resilient to changes in grid pricing and more environmentally sustainable. Developing innovative initiatives such as Lochaber’s balancing mechanism and investing in new clean technologies are key to delivering GFG Alliance’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30).

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