The main power station on the Shetland Islands is set for an upgrade that the project’s backers say will lead to more reliable energy supply while also accelerating decarbonisation of the network.

Finnish manufacturer Wartsila will install an energy storage system at the main power station in Lerwick on behalf of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), part of Perth-based energy group SSE. The 8MW/6MWh system will provide back-up power to the diesel-fuelled station, while also increasing system stability to allow greater penetration of energy from wind turbines onto the electricity grid.

“The Shetland Islands are leading the way and providing a blueprint for other islands to follow,” said Bent Iversen, senior business development manager for Wartsila. “The learnings will enable us to plan the best net zero pathway for larger island nations – such as the whole of the UK.

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“This project demonstrates that decarbonising energy systems can go hand-in-hand with increasing power system reliability and cutting costs. It will show how advanced flexible technologies can benefit communities all over the world as we strive to achieve 100 per cent renewable energy.”

The system is expected to be delivered by the middle of this summer, and become fully operational in September. Darren Hitchin, embedded generation manager at Lerwick Power Station, said it will enhance the islands’ security of supply.

“As the electricity distribution network operator responsible for ensuring homes and businesses in Shetland receive a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity, we’re investing in Lerwick Power Station to support full duty operations of the station until Shetland is connected to the GB electricity system,” he said.

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“A reliable supply of electricity is essential to the local community and the North Sea oil companies operating out of Shetland, which is 200 kilometres from the northern tip of Scotland.”

With the government push towards net zero, the UK is a target market for Wartsila. Research from the Finnish group has suggested that installing advanced flexible technologies, including energy storage and flexible gas, could save the overall UK economy £270 million a year by 2030, when compared to adding renewables alone.

Mr Iversen added: "The UK is in a unique position on its journey towards net zero carbon emissions. The government has set bold ambitions and has clear intentions to lead the world towards a clean energy future.

"We are partnering with industry innovators to roll out advanced flexible energy infrastructure and make these ambitions a reality.”

The storage system will be supported with a 10-year service agreement, including maintenance for the software and hardware system components, as well as 24/7 remote support and management. The project is being delivered by Wartsila under a full engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract.