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Community / New power station battery is safe, SSE insists

THE OPERATOR of Lerwick Power Station has reassured local residents over the safety of a new battery energy system due to be installed in the building later this year.

It comes after town councillor John Fraser said in a meeting of Lerwick Community Council on Monday that he had been contacted by constituents concerned about the safety of the 8MW battery.

He said their worries stemmed from the battery being a “potentially combustible piece of equipment”.

Fraser was keen for the community council to contact power operator SSE to give reassurance to local residents – particularly those living near to the station – that the installation and maintenance of the battery had been fully risk assessed.

Councillor John Fraser said constituents have expressed concern. Photo: Shetland News

The Wärtsilä battery system is expected to be delivered by mid-summer before becoming fully operational in September.

It will provide grid balancing and back-up capabilities, and give increased stability to “enable existing wind turbines greater penetration onto the electricity grid”, the company said.

In repose to the concerns over the battery’s safety, the power station’s embedded generation manager Darren Hitchin told Shetland News: “At Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) Distribution, safety is our number one priority; if it’s not safe, we don’t do it.

“We’d like to reassure the local community that our commitment to safety is at the forefront of our operations.

“The 8MW, 6MWh battery energy storage system was selected for Lerwick Power Station after a rigorous tender evaluation with significant emphasis placed on health, safety and the environment.

“The batteries have multiple layers of protection at cell, module and system level and are accredited to relevant international standards.

“Beyond this, the battery containers will be fitted with fire detection and gas suppression systems to provide an additional level of protection.”

Principal contractor for the battery installation Wärtsilä claims to have installed over 10,000MWh of batteries in more than 30 countries worldwide since 2019.

In the UK, figures from 2018 show there are seven projects with close to 200MW of installed capacity.