Scotland’s biggest power station may be given a stay of execution because wind turbines are not producing enough energy, it has emerged.
Longannet, which is owned by ScottishPower, was facing an earlier than expected closure due to the fees involved in staying connected to the National Grid.
But its closure could now be delayed after experts admitted the grid requires back-up to avoid power failures if wind drops and turbines are unable to produce energy.
It’s understood the coal-fired station in Fife is being considered to fill the void, along with SSE’s gas plant in Peterhead.
The revelation yesterday sparked a response from opposition politicians who insist the SNP’s reliance on renewable energy is flawed.
Scottish Tories’ energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “This is a common sense solution which, if finalised, guarantees we’ve a range of sources feeding into the National Grid.
“The idea that we could keep the lights on while depending entirely on renewables is a nonsense and I’m glad that this has been recognised.
“The answer to Scotland’s energy challenges is not to close power stations – it’s to build more.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We want secure and affordable energy supplies based on a balanced energy mix.”
National Grid is now negotiating with the management of Longannet and Peterhead stations.
They are the only viable alternatives, after the closure of Cockenzie coal-burning power station in East Lothian and the impending demolition of oil-burning Inverkip, Inverclyde.
A greater reliance is being put on renewable energy with conventional power generation in Scotland being shut down due to age, high emissions and cost.
A multi-billion pound project is under way to install extra capacity between Scotland and England, which will facilitate cross-border transfer of power if demand outstrips supply.
It will allow the transfer of renewable energy from Scotland to English cities but, when the wind drops, the flow can be reversed to serve Scottish demand.
Until that is in place, the National Grid has calculated there is enough risk of a voltage shortfall that it needs to make plans to avoid that.
The transmission company is now asking generators to bid for payments to provide standby power quickly.
A National Grid statement said: “To ensure we can maintain system stability, even in extreme circumstances, we’re in discussions with thermal generators in Scotland to procure some additional voltage control support, from April 2016.
“A final decision, outlining our plans, will be announced by the end of March 2015.”
A ScottishPower spokesman said: “We’re engaged in this commercial process.
“All talks relating to this are confidential.”
Although a privatised company, owning and running most of the high-voltage network, National Grid also carries responsibility for ensuring power supply and voltage is maintained throughout the country.
Energy planners say nuclear power is not suitable for back-up power.
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