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Black-Start Capability - A Global first for ScottishPower Renewables

With just one year to go until the eyes of the world are on Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) has achieved what is believed to be a global first – using energy from a 69MW of onshore wind turbines to re-energise part of the power grid.

The successful project, at Dersalloch windfarm in South Ayrshire, proves wind power can restore a ‘blacked-out’ section of the transmission network. ‘Black Start’ restoration –  the name given to the procedure used to restore power in the event of a total or partial shutdown of the electricity transmission system – is often reliant on traditional fossil fuels like coal and gas. So, delivering Black Start using renewables is not just an extraordinary achievement, but a pioneering world first. 

The project saw SPR partner Siemens Gamesa Renewables Energy (SGRE) to deploy the latest technology at the windfarm to make this happen.  SPR and SGRE also worked in collaboration with ScottishPower Energy Networks (SPEN) when it was time to interact with the grid. This highly innovative project also received part-funding from the Scottish Government.

The project used ‘grid-forming’ technology called virtual synchronous machines (VSM) to regulate the frequency and voltage of the power from the turbines – essentially forming a stable network island – to keep the electricity system stable and balanced. The technology was then used to integrate that supply with the grid and restore the part of the system that had been blacked out.

Its success provides the basis for Dersalloch to become the world’s first ‘Black Start’ windfarm by 2022, with work to install new infrastructure and battery storage at the site expected to be underway by November next year, when COP26 takes place in nearby Glasgow.

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