In a significant move towards expanding clean energy infrastructure, the Scottish Government has granted development approval to power generator Drax. The approval paved the way for constructing a new pumped storage hydro plant in Scotland, UK. The plant will be situated at Drax’s existing Cruachan pumped storage facility in Argyll, Scotland. It is expected to cost approximately £500 million ($645.79 million) to complete, according to a statement issued by Drax.
Will Gardiner, the CEO of Drax Group, expressed his enthusiasm. He referred to this development as a significant milestone in the company’s vision to build Britain’s first new pumped storage hydro plant in decades. Gardiner also emphasised the pivotal role of such plants in stabilising the electricity system. This balances supply and demand by storing excess power from the national grid. Cruachan, the proposed site, will play a crucial role in keeping renewable electricity generated by Scotland’s wind turbines during times of surplus, thereby preventing wastage.
Drax aims to invest £500 million to accomplish this ambitious venture. This storage hydro plant in Scotland anticipates creating nearly 1,000 jobs across the supply chain during construction. However, Gardiner also stressed the necessity of support from the UK Government to ensure the project’s success.
Drax underscored the absence of a framework for large-scale, long-duration storage technologies. This has hindered the construction of new plants in the UK since 1984, despite their significant role in decarbonisation.
Capacity for the Storage Hydro Plant in Scotland
The proposed facility will boast a substantial capacity of 600MW. Thus, it will form part of Drax’s broader £7 billion initiative to invest in cutting-edge clean energy technologies between 2024 and 2030. These technologies include long-duration storage and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). By being constructed adjacent to the current underground facility, the new hydro plant will effectively more than double the site’s total generation capacity, surpassing 1GW in output, as stated by Drax.
Recently, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf visited Drax‘s power station on the shores of Loch Awe, where he reiterated his calls for better support from the UK Government in the domain of power storage. In an open letter addressed to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Yousaf urged prompt action on funding to provide developers with the required certainty to build a new generation of pumped storage hydro plants and effectively combat the climate emergency.
With the Scottish Government’s green light, Drax’s hydro plant project takes a major step forward. It thus promises to bolster Scotland’s clean energy capacity and contribute significantly to the UK’s decarbonisation efforts.