Last week the Scottish Government approved it’s plans to expand an underground power station, the Cruachan facility at Argyll’s Hollow Mountain, with a £500M hydro-power investment. The extension is expected to be functional by 2030 and will provide up to 1000 new jobs during its construction.
For the plans to be fully confirmed, the UK government must now give its approval for private investment within the project.
However, the main issue highlighted by the development team that the UK market is not attractive enough for investors to fully commit to the new plans. This is despite the UK government claiming it ‘intended’ to enable investment within hydro pump technology.
The Cruachan power station was originally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965. Of its time, it was the first large-scale reversible turbine energy storage project in the world. The installation is within a large cavern inside Ben Cruachan, nicknamed Hollow Mountain due to the project.
DRAX, a UK based power generation company specialising in biomass and coal fuel, welcome the plans for the extension, which will increase energy capacity by 600MW. Will Gardiner, chief executive, states, “This is a major milestone in Drax’s plans to build Britain’s first new pumped storage hydro plant in a generation.”
He goes on to state that with UK government support, investment at the facility could more than double it’s generating capacity.
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First Minister Hamza Yousaf commented on the plans during his visit to Cruachan, stating “The Scottish government will continue to urge the UK government to provide an appropriate market mechanism for hydro power and other long-duration energy storage technologies, to ensure that the potential for hydro power is fully realised.”
The UK government has said that Scotland has played a key role within it’s green energy investment, with billions already being assigned. Industry body Scottish Renewables have stated that the work at Cruachan will be essential for keeping energy bills low in the area.
A government spokesperson has also commented on the developments and it’s ramifications for the local industry and community, “Our plans to power up Britain are expected to attract a further £100bn investment and support 480,000 jobs across the UK, including Scotland, by 2030.”
They go on to add, “Pumped hydro storage will help deliver greater energy security and economic growth and we have already confirmed our intention to enable investment in these technologies while removing regulatory barriers.”
Scotland has been a major player within the UK renewable energy sector. With many miles of on and off shore turbines, expansion of solar energy projects and this recent investment within hydro power, it is setting the stage for the countries 2030 net zero targets.