Peterhead power station could be left lying dormant

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Peterhead Power Station could effectively be mothballed for 12 months under a new agreement.

National Grid and Scottish and Southern Electricity Generation (SSE) have signed a one-year contract for SSE’s Peterhead Power Station to provide support services to the North of Scotland electricity system.

The contract will allow National Grid to call up to 780MW of Peterhead’s 1180MW capacity to provide these support services, but prevents the plant from business-as-usual participation in the electricty market.

Due to this its capacity will be unavailable to the market unless called upon by National Grid, which could eventually lead to the station lying dormant. The purpose of this contract is to reduce any network risk in the event of a fault or unforeseen system conditions.

But SSE was at pains to point out that despite this new contract, no jobs will be lost.

The initial value of the contract will be £6million and if required, Peterhead will have a minimum dispatch period of 24 hours and will have to provide capacity of between 480MW and 780MW.

A spokesperson for SSE told the Buchan Observer: “National Grid will use the plant to manage the network system as it sees fit, in line with its role as system operator.

“The exact type of ancillary support services provided will depend on National Grid, but could include voltage control and frequency response.

“We don’t know at this stage how often the station will be required.”

They added: “There are over 100 SSE staff positions at Peterhead and none of them will be affected by this announcement.”

Meanwhile a spokesperson for National Grid said: “As system operator, National Grid has two roles. Firstly, to ‘balance’ the network, ensuring supply and demand is managed second by second, and secondly, to ensure the network operates within the required system standards including maintaining a stable level of voltage.

“The contract with Peterhead will assist National Grid with the second of these roles.

“Voltage control is the method by which National Grid uses equipment such as power stations, overhead lines, underground cables and compensation equipment to ensure that the voltage at which the system operates remains within statutory limits, both in day to day operation and following a fault.”

They continued: “National Grid’s network planners assess many different network scenarios to understand and prepare us for managing the system under different conditions and with the modelling we have done.

“We are confident that we can operate the network without Peterhead, but we take our responsibility very seriously and consider it prudent to have this back-up option to manage any unforeseen system conditions.”