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Audio Transcript: VSM

The text below is the transcript from the VSM video.

Video Title: VSM

We know the UK is trying really hard to become decarbonised as quickly as possible but in order to do that we know we need to work with the grid to ensure that the quality of supply and energy is not just providing the electricity we come to take for granted but also help in balancing the system in ways that National Grid come to expect from traditional generators.

Conventional generation is being disconnected from the grid at the moment so National Grid is looking for alternative ways to support it.

Now we need to start thinking about how we manage the wind farm in favour of not just decarbonisation but in favour of actually managing the system because we need to control this technology differently.

It's actually quite impressive as an island system that we have such a high quality of electricity supply.

We have legal standards for the limits for the Frequency level in the UK.  We've got a system that runs off 50hz. It can go plus or minus half a hertz. The National Grid tries to keep it within point two of a hertz, however on a more renewable system without inertia, we might start to struggle.

There's just a small amount of deviation that you can afford, beyond that deviation you can start seeing a cascade effect with technologies and customers connected to the system and that's what could create a blackout.

Traditionally, National Grid have depended on large fossil plants to maintain synchronised grid.  These large generators have given an inherent balance and have been able to keep that frequency stable without really having to do anything particularly new.  What we are doing here is replicating what can be done by these large generators but doing it on a wind farm.

All this started around 2017 as part of new legislation introduced by the European Union.  Introducing what is called the Requirement for Generators.  In those meetings it was discussed the topic of Virtual Synchronous Machines.

A Virtual Synchronous Machine is something that has been bandied around for a while now and it started to form in to a true technical solution in the last few years properly.  It is also known as a grid forming convertor, that's the terminology being used more widely.  Which may tell you some insight into what the meaning of Virtual Synchronous Machine is, it means it can create the voltage on the grid and not just follow the grid.

And I think at some point Paul said well we could do this but we don't have a site and Isaac said well we have a site.

So we decided then to try to speak to our managers and senior directors to see if the idea is acceptable to them or not.

We presented the scope in the Investment Committee's where all SPR management sit down and assess opportunities, so they said to be in the forefront we need to actually show the industry that we want to make this work yeah let's do this.

Just signing the agreement was, you know, an adventure.

Siemens Gamesa and ourselves signed an agreement just for one of the phases and that phase was about demonstrating that the wind farm can provide an inertia-like response.  That's a major breakthrough.

What you seen with the trials we done last year when there was a big outage in one of these plants the grid responded by dropping its frequency slightly Dersalloch windfarm responded proactively to that drop and started supporting the grid bringing it back to 50hz again.

We have been developing all these trials and tests obviously with the vision of having a commercial product that could be used by National Grid for black-start services.

The purpose of being able to provide a black-start is if the worst does eventually happen and there's a blackout either nationally or locally - in the past again this is done by conventional generators but in a future system which is 100-percent renewable we need to make sure we can do that from Renewables.

Probably more remote areas of Scotland when people are disconnected and networks companies have to bring it large diesel generators to keep them online until the system has rebuilt - a great future would be a wind battery system that keeps everybody online even when the the grid has been disconnected from their local area.

A large share of the industry still believe that wind farms are just there - exporting power - and don't touch them because they do anything else - but the fact is that you can restart your windfarm from from scratch, no system at all, and have it help the system to come back.  No one thought windfarms could do this.

Although it's our wind farm, we have worked very closely with Siemens Gamesa, who have developed the technology with us to make sure that we are able to provide this.  But we're also working closely with National Grid and SPEN to make sure that the grid side is ready to respond, to understand what's happening and essentially to make this viable on the system-level not just at an individual wind farm level.

Because of being in a major global group you can bring people along from other jurisdictions with different expertise and that, I think, is what supported and supported the idea.

There's obviously areas in the network that are weaker than others and probably require maybe a bit more support but in general the vision is to have it in a wide-spread area.

We know in the past in areas where there are large volumes of Renewables that sometimes the need tends to be the highest so that would probably be we start but in a future system where we are 100-percent renewable that means that we have to be spread out across the UK providing these services from from every part.

It will help provide stability to the grid, it will help provide strength to the grid, it will help to enable us both to operate as we have and to increase the amount of Renewables on the system.

It's not just about simulations anymore. A live demonstration has happened and no one can say, well, windfarms are just there, passive, no, that's not the case anymore.    

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