- Will this affect public access to Whitelee?
We don’t expect the development to affect the public access arrangements for Whitelee.
During construction there may be some access restrictions in the immediate vicinity of the proposed sites, but as the sites are located away from main paths this should not significantly affect public access.
- When do you expect to begin construction?
We intend to submit our Planning application to the Scottish Government Energy Consents Unit by the end of 2020. Assuming that full planning consent is obtained by August 2021, we expect to begin construction in Q4 2021/Q1 2022. The Hydrogen Production site is expected to be fully operational by Q4 2023, with the Solar and BESS sites completing a little before this.
- How will the development affect local roads?
We don’t expect there to be any significant adverse impacts or changes to traffic flow on the local road network as a result of this development, either during construction or operation.
The operational entrance to the Solar and BESS sites will likely be via the existing Whitelee Windfarm and Extension entrance to the east of the proposed Green Hydrogen Production Facility. The link road runs south from the B764 and is designated as a private access road. Entrance to the Green Hydrogen Production Facility will be via a new private access road to join the B764 at Kinsgwell, which we expect to build in early 2022.
During construction, there will be an increase in HGV and heavy plant traffic to and from the site.
We expect there to be 4-5 HGVs accessing the Green Hydrogen Production facility per day once it is operational. The other sites will not be regularly accessed, and we expect around 1-2 cars or small vans a week at the site for maintenance purposes.
- How do you plan to construct on peat?
Currently, we plan to use standard piles to support the foundations of any proposed structures. We will use adapted piling rigs and construction equipment which can traverse the bog safely to provide the initial foundations.
Temporary access roads may be built across the bog to allow access to the development during construction.
- How do you intend to mitigate the environmental impact of the development?
We have taken care to avoid the most environmentally sensitive areas and deepest peat when planning this development where possible, but the proposal for the Green Hydrogen Production Facility does require construction in an area that is currently subject to a Habitat Management Plan (HMP). As part of SPR’s ongoing commitment to protecting the sensitive peatland at Whitelee, we will propose a new HMP that will protect a different area of peatland near the Hydrogen/Solar development of at least equivalent size to the area being developed. The new HMP will allow us to mitigate the potential impact of the development and will provide an opportunity to improve the conservation and condition of the designated area beyond this. Final details of the proposal are yet to be confirmed, but our intention is that the new managed habitat will be of greater conservation interest than the land being developed.
We don’t expect there to be any additional impact on local wildlife, as per the environmental surveying undertaken as part of our Environmental Statement and Planning Submission for this site.
We consider the development to be a net benefit for the environment overall – creating green hydrogen from renewable electricity will allow large numbers of old diesel vehicles to be replaced, which will reduce pollution and improve air quality as well as significantly reducing the carbon footprint of the vehicles.
- What is hydrogen fuel?
Hydrogen is the lightest known gas and is naturally found in small quantities in air. When hydrogen is burned as fuel it produces only water, unlike petrol and diesel which also create carbon dioxide, soot, and other chemicals and particulates which have a negative impact on the environment.
Compressed hydrogen is an extremely dense energy source; a hydrogen tank can contain much more energy than an electric battery of the same size. This makes hydrogen a good ‘green’ fuel for large vehicles with high energy needs or which need to cover long distances, which would require prohibitively large and heavy batteries to run on electricity. Adapting heavy vehicle fleets to use hydrogen fuel instead of diesel is a critical part of decarbonising transport and reaching Net Zero by 2045.
- What is ‘Green’ Hydrogen?
‘Green’ hydrogen is hydrogen that is produced without creating carbon dioxide as a by-product and using entirely renewable resources - water is split in an electrolyser which is powered by renewable energy. At Whitelee, green hydrogen will be produced using the electricity generated on-site by the solar panels and water from a dedicated supply.
Other types of hydrogen are produced by Steam Methane Reformation (SMR), which heats steam and natural gas from fossil fuel together to produce hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Most hydrogen produced today is ‘grey’ hydrogen, where the waste carbon dioxide is vented directly to the atmosphere. There is also ‘blue’ hydrogen, which is also produced using SMR but which uses Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology to capture the carbon dioxide created rather than emit it. Blue hydrogen is less environmentally damaging than grey hydrogen, but it is not carbon-free as it uses fossil fuel and the carbon dioxide it creates must be stored and managed indefinitely.
- Why Hydrogen in this location?
As announced in September 2020, ScottishPower Renewables is proud to be a partner in ‘Green Hydrogen for Scotland’ a pioneering partnership to create new green hydrogen production facilities with clusters of refuelling stations across Scotland, supporting the country’s efforts to achieve net zero by 2045.
‘Green Hydrogen for Glasgow’ is the first project being brought forward by the partnership designed to provide carbon- free transport and clean air for communities across the city, which wants to become the first net-zero city in the UK by 2030. It also supports the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation targets and Glasgow City Council’s commitment to creating a zero-emissions vehicle fleet, using only electric and hydrogen powered vehicles by the end of 2029.
The Development’s location on the outskirts of Glasgow means it is perfectly situated to support this goal, and help deliver clean, green hydrogen, utilising both existing and new renewable assets.
- How will it be produced at the site?
The Green Hydrogen Production facility will contain an electrolyser, which uses electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen in a process known as electrolysis. Powering the electrolyser from renewable sources such as solar and wind power means the process is completed without any carbon emissions – resulting in ‘green’ hydrogen.
Electrolysis using renewable energy is currently the only way in which zero-carbon hydrogen can be produced. Other methods involve using natural gas or oil as a hydrogen source, which produces carbon dioxide as a by-product.
We initially plan to produce 6.6 tonnes of hydrogen per day, with the potential to increase this to 10 tonnes per day as demand increases.
- Will there be any emissions or pollution from the site?
As the hydrolysers use renewable electricity to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, no chemical or carbon emissions are produced at any stage.
Oxygen is produced as a by-product and will be vented to the outside of the facility, along with some water vapour. On cold days, a plume of steam may be visible as a result.
- How is the hydrogen stored and transported?
After production, hydrogen is pressurised to 500bar (c. 7252psi) and stored in pressurised tanks. Current plans are for about 8,700kg of potential hydrogen storage across 8 tanks, although we expect that regular deliveries leaving the site will mean that the actual amount of hydrogen stored at any one time will be lower.
The hydrogen will be transferred into pressurised tubes, which will be picked up by specialised HGVs (known as Tube Trailers) and transported to local filling stations. Hydrogen powered vehicles will be able to fill their tanks at these filling stations.
- Is hydrogen safe?
Hydrogen is naturally found in small quantities in air and is very light. If it leaks, it evaporates immediately and does not produce any contaminants or pollution. If hydrogen ignites it quickly burns out and produces no harmful by-products and no residual heat or reignition hazard, unlike conventional fuels such as petrol or diesel. Hydrogen storage and transport is covered by existing fuel gas safety legislation, and the site is subject to the same regulatory and safety requirements as a natural gas or fuel storage facility.
- What is Solar PV Technology?
Photovoltaic cells directly convert sunlight into electricity. The term ‘PV’ comes from the process of converting light (photons) to electricity (voltage). Solar panels are typically made from solar cells that, once combined, create a single system referred to as a solar array.
- Why have we chosen this layout?
We have surveyed the entire site extensively over more than a decade and have decided on the proposed layout after detailed analysis of these survey results.
- Avoids the deepest areas of peat at Whitelee;
- Provides a good solar yield;
- Avoids any tree-felling or other forestry;
- Is near to an existing access road, which is important for the co-located hydrogen facility; and
- Can be reasonably connected to the electrical Grid based on the infrastructure nearby.
- How big is the development?
We plan to install c. 62,000 individual solar panels across 7.5 hectares (c. 18.5 acres). Each individual panel will be no more than 3m tall and will be angled to catch sunlight effectively. During peak operation, this should produce around 20MW of electricity, which will be used to power the Green Hydrogen Production Facility.
- Don’t the solar panels require constant sunlight/heat to produce energy?
Solar panels harness the energy in sunlight to produce electricity, and even on cloudy days there is enough light present to allow some electricity to be produced. Direct, intense sunlight will increase the output of the solar panels but is not needed for them to produce electricity. Solar schemes currently operate across the UK all year round, even in areas like Whitelee where weather conditions are very variable.
We have carried out extensive energy yield assessments at the proposed site, which show that a 15-20MW Solar development at Whitelee would produce the electricity required to operate the hydrolysers at the Green Hydrogen Production Facility.
- How long do solar panels operate for?
PV arrays and systems have a typical lifespan of 30-40 years. Once operational, they require very little maintenance. They do require occasional washing to remove dirt and grime build-up on the photovoltaic surface of the panel, as this reduces their efficiency.
- Why Battery Storage Technology?
Renewable energy production is very dependent on weather conditions - for example, wind speed at a wind farm, or cloud density over a solar site. There are times where renewable generation might be high but demand for that electricity is low, and vice versa. As we move away from consistent but carbon-intensive sources of generation (like coal burning) and towards more variable renewable sources, we need a way to smooth that variance out and ensure that the supply of electricity always matches the demand.
Battery Energy Storage Systems (BESS) allow excess generation to be stored when demand is low and used later, rather than that electricity being wasted. Batteries are Green technology and produce no emissions or pollution during normal operation. As Battery Storage technology can react to changes on the network very quickly it can also provide Stability services to the Grid during generation/demand fluctuations, which will reduce the incidence of power cuts and ensure that electricity supplies remain stable.
- Why here?
The location of the BESS site has been strategically chosen as it is within the Whitelee Windfarm boundary, within an existing construction compound used during previous extension works at Whitelee. This will minimise any additional environmental and visual impact.
The compound is near the existing Whitelee Extension substation, providing an existing point of connection to the electrical Grid. This will reduce the need for large sections of cable to be laid and will allow us to connect to the Grid without constructing a new substation, which in turn will reduce the potential environmental and visual impact of the proposed development.
- How will the batteries work?
Approximately 100 individual Lithium-Ion cells will be housed inside the building at the battery site in banks of 10 cells. Taken together, this array provides 50MW of usable storage capacity.
When Whitelee is generating more electricity than is required by the Grid, excess power will be diverted to the battery and stored until needed. When demand is higher than generation, or when the Grid requires additional support, the batteries will discharge their stored electricity. The batteries can respond very quickly to changes on the network so are ideal for providing support services, unlike most other types of renewable generation which take time to power up.
The batteries will be regularly maintained and constantly monitored to ensure that they remain efficient and that any battery degradation is captured as quickly as possible. Assuming heavy use, each cell should last around 10 years before repair or replacement is required.
- Are batteries noisy?
We have found that these types of sites, once constructed, do not disturb the surrounding area with noise. A noise assessment has been carried out to confirm whether there are any special requirements at this site for noise mitigation, as part of the planning application.
Although the batteries and associated equipment can produce noise during their normal operations, they will be housed inside a building, which will mitigate the impact of any noise outside the building and around the site.
- Are batteries safe?
We currently plan to install Lithium Ion (“Li-Ion”) batteries, along with associated inverters and transformers. Battery technology is well established in the UK, and safety requirements for equipment are well tested and robust. The batteries will be installed with the same electrical and thermal protective equipment and be subject to the same inspection, testing, and maintenance regime as other battery storage or generation sites. The battery storage building will have a dedicated HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) system to ensure that the building temperature remains within operational limits.
Research shows that the risk of fire or fault is low, but we have taken steps to ensure that the site is safe and well-protected. The battery storage building will house a gas detection and venting system, as well as a fire detection and suppression system supplied from a dedicated on-site water tank.
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