The National Electricity Grid Operator (ESO) announces a greener and ‘pioneering’ way of generating inertia in the electricity grid, to make the UK less dependent on gas supplies, including those from Russia , writes my colleague Rob Davies.

If all goes according to plan, it could also reduce carbon emissions, bring household bills under control and recoup the £336m investment funding it.

In the electrical system, inertia is crucial to maintain a stable electrical frequency on the grid, keeping the lights on. In August 2019, more than a million people across the UK were plunged into darkness during one of the worst power outages in over a decade, after the network frequency dropped from its usual 50 Hz at 48.88 Hz.

This unprecedented loss of electricity production was caused by a lightning strike, but outages can also occur for other reasons, causing a sudden drop that disrupts the frequency of the system.

As it stands, the grid system is generally self-balancing thanks to the inertia of the huge rotating turbines of coal and gas-fired power plants – much like a spinning top, but 19.5 meters (64 ft. ) long and made of 300 tons of steel and aluminum.

They react instantly to a power failure occurring elsewhere, spinning a little slower to compensate for the disturbance and maintain system stability.

However, these giant turbines are not a feature of wind or solar power generation, which means that while the UK aims to decarbonize the electricity grid by 2025 as part of efforts to reach zero net, the inertia must come from elsewhere.

The solution, according to National Grid ESO, whose job it is to control the power grid, is a series of green turbines created to mimic the effect of their cousins ​​in carbon-emitting fossil fuel power plants.

With only a small amount of power injected into them, they can spin at the required speed of 3,000 rpm, the speed that ensures synchronization with the 50 Hz grid system.

The result, in theory, is a solution to the problem of creating inertia in an increasingly wind and solar power system, allowing faster disposal of fossil fuels that emit carbon and fill the pockets of countries like Russia. .

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