SSE seeks to build 600 MW pumped storage hydroelectric plant

Source: SSE

SSE Renewables, Scottish and Southern Energy’s renewable energy development division, has submitted an application to the Scottish Government for consent to construct a new pumped storage hydroelectric scheme of up to 600MW capacity to the north-west of Loch Lochy in the Great Glen. The scheme would help meet peak demand and would extract, store (up to 30GWh) and release energy to and from the electricity transmission system to help balance supply and demand for power at a national scale. 

The scheme would be the largest hydro project to be built in Scotland and the first brand new pumped storage scheme to be developed in Great Britain since work began on the Dinorwig scheme in Wales in 1974. With a cost currently estimated at £800m it would also be one of the largest construction projects in Scotland. 

The scheme would require the construction of a new dam and upper reservoir at Loch a’ Choire Ghlais (the upper reservoir). At an estimated height above ground level of up to 92m, this would be one of the largest dams in the UK. A powerhouse complex would be constructed underground, together with a series of tunnels to provide access and convey water between the lower reservoir (Loch Lochy) and the upper reservoir. In addition, an outlet area comprising an administration building and jetty, tunnel portals and a tailrace structure would be constructed on the shores of Loch Lochy. Once completed the scheme would have minimal visual impact in the Great Glen. It is envisaged that the construction period would last up to five years, with an average workforce of around 150 throughout this time. 

Jim Smith, Managing Director of SSE Renewables, said: “Hydroelectric schemes, which use impounded water to generate electricity, are an excellent means of energy storage. Consequently, they naturally complement the variable output from the growing number of wind farms and play an important part in meeting peak demand. As the UK’s leading generator of renewable energy SSE is proud to be at the forefront of developing renewables and helping tackle climate change.” 

If the project receives consent, a final investment decision is unlikely to be taken before 2014 at the earliest, and progress of this scheme (and other similar developments) will be dependent upon a satisfactory public policy and regulatory framework, including a change in transmission charging regime.

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