Natural Power invests £540k in state-of-the-art ControlCentre

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse officially opens Natural Power’s new ControlCentre and Brockloch Rig Wind Farm

Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has visited Natural Power’s global headquarters, ‘The Green House’ in Dumfries and Galloway, to mark the official launch of the new over £540,000 ControlCentre, and to mark the opening of Fred Olsen Renewables’ Brockloch Rig Wind Farm, which is to be operated by Natural Power.

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Natural Power’s ControlCentre, a new state-of-the-art facility, has been created. This is the largest, independently operated 24/7 control room in the UK, managing more than 175 renewable energy assets which are located throughout the UK, Ireland, France and the US. The ControlCentre now employs 19 staff and manages 5 GW of capacity (Scotland’s maximum demand is 6 GW) comprising onshore and offshore wind, biomass, solar and hydro. This new investment also ensures the ControlCentre complies with all the new EU cybersecurity rules to protect clients’ assets and the grid keeping them safe against potential cyber-attacks.

Stephen Trotter, Managing Director at Natural Power, said: “In early 2017 we decided to take control centre to the next level. To ensure Natural Power remained at the forefront of asset management, real time data provision and security requirements, this investment is designed to deliver the next decade of services to a market where our clients demand more flexibility; where interaction between generators, system and network operators becomes more sophisticated; and where intelligent management of assets brings higher returns. So we embarked on a market leading programme that included the design and build of a new control services facility at our global headquarters, incorporating a decade of experience in its design.

He continued: “By upgrading and increasing our capacity in the ControlCentre, we have enabled our clients to maximise their assets’ performance, comply with ever changing regulations and explore new ways of increasing revenue.

“Whilst automation plays an important role in modern asset management and the software required to deliver cutting edge services is continually improved, another more human factor, plays a vital role. An ergonomic environment, improved sound, lighting and room layout mean that the operational controllers are comfortable and safe to support our clients at any time of the day or night, whether that is site access, grid curtailment, emergency response, turbine control or any of our other services.”

The new facility has been designed for Natural Power’s next decade of growth, with the flexibility to add new services where required, to upgrade software that will improve service delivery and to accommodate work with specialist suppliers whenever necessary – vitally important in an ever-changing industry.

Paul Wheelhouse, Energy Minister, said: “I am delighted to open this new facility and welcome the significant investment by Natural Power and the Fred Olsen Group in the Scottish energy sector and, of course, it is tremendous to see investment in such a facility in a rural region such as Dumfries and Galloway.

“Learning from this facility will play an important role in supporting a low carbon economy in Scotland as envisaged in the Scottish Energy Strategy and Climate Change Plan and I warmly congratulate Natural Power for its commitment to delivering a low carbon future.”

One of assets being managed through the ControlCentre is Fred Olsen Renewables’ new Brockloch Rig Wind Farm which was also officially opened by Paul Wheelhouse. Owned by Fred Olsen Renewables and Aviva Investors, and operated by Natural Power, Brockloch Rig Wind Farm was first consented in 2007. The wind farm is located 8km north east of Carsphairn and 10km south of New Cumnock in Scotland. It consists of 30 x 2.05MW Senvion turbines with a total installed capacity of 61.5MW.

Fred Olsen/David Brunt, CEO Fred Olsen Renewables, said: “The investment in Brockloch Rig creates two new milestones for Fred Olsen Renewables. Firstly it takes us past 500MW of operating capacity in Scotland, and secondly it brings the total invested in Scotland to almost three quarters of a billion pounds. This site is particularly interesting as it tells the story of the modern wind industry in Scotland over the past 20 years. The initial Brockloch Rig investment in 1996 was an enabler to setting up Natural Power in this region. Since then we have all grown in size, as has our close working relationship. The new investment in Brockloch Rig produces more output from 10 turbines than the original 36 turbines achieved in 1996.

“With this investment Fred Olsen Renewables and Aviva are driving forward the maturity of the sector. Instead of the traditional five year operations contract with the turbine supplier, we are engaging Natural Power to run this project after just two years, bringing the supply chain associated with operations and maintenance to Scotland and the jobs related to it. This approach is being rolled out across our fleet where the original turbine manufacturer’s warranties expire, creating over 40 jobs within the Natural Power servicing team in Scotland.”