Drinks industry driving Scottish electricity demand

SSE publishes energy trends study head of transmission price control

A new report for SSE’s Scottish transmission business has suggested that a boom in the Scottish drinks industry is behind increasing demand for electricity in the north of Scotland, counter to a UK wide trend which has seen industrial and commercial power demand decline over the last decade.

 SSE Networks report North of Scotland Energy Trends is the first of a series of papers to be published by the transmission owner ahead of its RIIO-T2 price control.

The paper shows that industrial and commercial demand in the north of Scotland increased by 13.5 per cent between 2005 and 2015 while the UK as a whole saw industrial and commercial demand drop by 7 per cent.

Writing in a blog SSEN’s head of network development Aileen McLoed said the “working hypothesis” is that demand is being driven up by “a booming food and beverage sector including craft beer, gin distilleries and, of course, whisky”.

McLoed said added while SSE had been focussed over the past couple of decades on connecting renewable generation to its network – the system now supports over 5GW of renewable generation – the transmission owner has not “forgotten about household and business energy customers – all that renewable energy is worthless if it can’t be safely transported to provide a reliable supply of power to the end customer.”

The energy trends report for the north of Scotland is the first phase of a research series which aims to add “granularity” to the Future Energy Scenarios (FES) work conducted by National Grid.

The report states: While the FES are a powerful tool at a macrogeographic level, because the FES are developed at a GB level and then divided down to provide regional data, the assumptions themselves are limited in their regional variations”.

It added: “In the north of Scotland, we have seen developments that have not always matched the prevailing GB trends; we believe that additional granularity, provided through localised future energy scenarios for the north of Scotland, would best meet energy users’ needs.”

The insights gathered in SSEN scenario planning work will inform its busienss plan for the RIIO-T2 price control.

Other key insights from the first report included the finding that industrial and commercial gas demand had increased by 16 per cent in the north of Scotland over the last decade compared to a UK-wide increase of just 4.6 per cent.

It also showed that while the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the north of Scotland has increased at a slower rate than the rest of the UK over the past ten years, the concentration of EVs in certain local authorities in the north of Scotland may prove particularly challenging.

This is because the “clustering” of EV’s in cities including Aberdeen and Dundee is among the most pronounced in tthe UK and aligns with areas of existing high demand. This trend will require “further investigation to understand the impact of variations in demand on the network,” said the report.