Temporary power supporting renewables growth

As renewables continue to play a larger part of the global energy mix, temporary power will continue to play a vital role.
Published: Thu 12 May 2016

The development of renewable energy has seen major growth due to the need for a more diversified global energy mix and long-term energy security.

The EU has experienced a major shift in the last decade away from fossil fuels. According to the European Commission’s Renewable energy progress report [2015], 26% of the EU's power is generated from renewables today. About 10% of the total EU electricity is sourced from variable renewable electricity (such as wind and solar).

Growing international pressure on governments to reduce their carbon emissions has also done a lot to drive the renewables boom. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has set stringent carbon reduction targets for countries to meet by 2020. The EU mandates its member states work towards a 40% reduction in emission levels against a 1990 base by 2020.

Temporary power-an innovative take on renewables development

This impressive growth is not without its challenges. The intermittent nature of renewable energy makes complete reliance a challenge. In addition to this, the storage of renewable energy is not always possible which often leads to waste.

Despite these challenges, renewable energy currently accounts for approximately 13% of the global energy mix (and continues to grow rapidly), and while traditional forms of energy still account for a larger proportion of the generation mix, the move to cleaner energy has increased the sector's need for innovative solutions such as temporary power generation.

Temporary power can ensure a reliable power supply. For instance, during low rainfall periods, hydropower could prove to be unsustainable for a country’s economy. A good example of this is Kenya-its economy would have lost 3.8% of its GDP in 2010 in nine months between rainfalls if it had relied on its hydropower for electricity. Temporary helped fill the power gap they needed.

Wind power requires heavy investment in transmission and distribution grids to tackle the intermittency issue. As with hydropower's dependence on water, during certain seasons wind levels can be either too weak or too strong to generate enough power for the grid's needs. These periods, which can also be linked with extreme weather conditions, often coincide with an increase in consumer demand.

It is during times like these when temporary power can offer an efficient and highly cost-effective solution.

Temporary power for construction of renewable plants

Temporary power generation can also serve a useful purpose during the construction of renewable generation plants.

Aggreko, a global provider of modular, mobile power and adjacent product solutions, will be providing power generation during the construction of the 336MW Galloper offshore wind farm, located 45km off the Suffolk coast, UK. The contract was awarded by James Fisher, the offshore and marine services contractor to Galloper Wind Farm Limited (GWFL), which is providing key elements of marine services and support during the construction phase, as part of a contract worth over £25 million during the next two years.

Aggreko will supply 56 new lightweight 20kVA wind-charged generators, plus a standby machine, to provide power during a 40-week plus construction phase, starting in July 2016.

The firm’s fleet of generators has been specially developed to withstand the extreme environment of the offshore wind market and this will be its first application. With outlets at 110V, 240V and 415V, the generators will be used to power hand tools and other equipment.

The Aggreko machines weigh less than one metric tonne and come with their own mini wind turbine, which is used to charge the generator's battery. This avoids the need to start up the generator and improves the green performance. By keeping the battery continuously charged through long periods of standby duty, the risk of battery failure is greatly reduced and maintenance and servicing costs are minimised.

Galloper offshore wind farm

The Galloper offshore wind farm is scheduled to begin operation in March 2018. It is an extension of the existing and fully operational Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm, off the coast of Suffolk.

Aggreko also supplied generators for commissioning power for this project.

The average annual generation expected at the Galloper site should be equivalent to the domestic power needs of around 336,000 average UK homes.

RWE Innogy UK is leading the development and construction of the project and is a joint equity partner in GWFL, together with UK Green Investment Bank, Siemens Financial Services and Macquarie Capital.

The offshore wind farm, which has grid connection secured, represents an expected investment potential of around £1.5 billion.

Temporary power-a vital piece of the global energy mix puzzle

The value of temporary power and putting a contingency plan in place, reducing unnecessary electricity losses and ensuring reliability, is unmistakable. The need to fill the gap will become even more significant as a growing number of projects age and require maintenance. Modernisation is also likely as new technologies are developed.

The continued reliance on sustainable energy sources and associated risk of intermittency means that the role of temporary power will remain a vital piece of the global energy mix puzzle for years to come.

Further reading

European Commission-Renewable energy progress report [pdf]