16 Dec 2020 / Innovation
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Melgarve substation sits approximately 400M above sea-level, nestled in the Monadhliath Mountains, one of the remotest and windiest areas of the Scottish Highlands. Making it one of the highest transmission substations in the UK.

Since its construction in 2017 it has helped to support the transition to net zero emissions by facilitating the connection of 227 MW of renewable energy to the grid when Stronelairg wind farm was built. The site also has the capacity to connect further generators to the grid in the coming years, with the substation’s GIS buildings sized to accommodate even more connections in the future.

What makes the site now even more significant is that SSEN Transmission and their principal contractor Siemens-BAM have been working at Melgarve battling some very challenging weather conditions, including a lot of snow, to install the first two Static Synchronous Compensators (STATCOMs) on the SSEN Transmission network.

The installation of STATCOMs such as these has never been more important, the energy mix across the national grid has changed significantly year on year with large scale thermal generation coming offline and more renewable generation coming on. This shift has created a much more variable outputs from the generation on to the grid, making it more challenging for network operators such as SSEN Transmission to respond to the fluctuations in supply and demand, whilst maintaining a stable frequency and voltage.

Commenting on the installation of the STATCOMs, Project Manager Laurence Kibblewhite said:

 “We are continually working to improve network reliability for our customers and for our end users, that is why the installation of new technology such as the STATCOMs at Melgarve substation is so important. Our network region is home to some of the UK’s greatest renewable energy resources and we play a significant role in getting that clean energy to where it is needed, but that is not to say it isn’t without its challenges.

“The installation of STATCOMs allows us to maintain network reliability today, whilst looking to the future as more renewables and larger connections are added to the system. It is clear as the make-up of our network continues to evolve in the transition to net zero emissions, STATCOM’s will play an increasingly important role in how we manage our network in years to come. ”

The new STATCOMs at Melgarve substation represents SSEN Transmission’s ongoing commitment to create a secure and reliable network for its customers, helping to actively reduce the length of future outages for planned windfarm extensions or repowers. Providing flexibility and voltage stability to the wider SSEN Transmission network and beyond, supporting its commitment to build a network for net zero.

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