The Scottish Government has given development approval to power generator Drax, allowing the company to build a pumped storage hydroelectric plant in Scotland, UK.
The plant will be developed at the company’s existing Cruachan pumped storage facility in Argyll, Scotland. It is expected to cost approximately £500m ($645.79m) to construct, according to a statement from Drax.
The facility will have a capacity of 600MW and is part of a wider £7bn plan by Drax to invest in clean energy technologies between 2024 and 2030. Such technologies include the development of long-duration storage and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Constructed adjacent to the existing underground facility, the plant would effectively more than double the site’s total generation capacity to more than 1GW, Drax said.
Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said: “This is a major milestone in Drax’s plans to build Britain’s first new pumped storage hydro plant in a generation. These plants play a critical role in stabilising the electricity system, helping to balance supply and demand through storing excess power from the national grid. When Scotland’s wind turbines are generating more power than we need, Cruachan steps in to store the renewable electricity so it doesn’t go to waste.
“With the right support from the UK Government, Drax will invest £500m to more than double Cruachan’s generating capacity and support almost 1,000 jobs across the supply chain during construction,” he added.
Drax said in its statement that the current absence of a framework for large-scale, long-duration storage technologies has resulted in no new plants being constructed in the UK since 1984, despite their role in the decarbonisation process.
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On Tuesday, Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf visited Drax’s power station on the shores of Loch Awe, where he doubled down on calls for the UK Government to provide better support for power storage. Mr Yousaf recently wrote an open letter to UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak urging him to act on the funding so developers can have the certainty required to build a new generation of pumped storage hydro plants and effectively “tackle the climate emergency”.