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Drax's £500m pumped storage hydro plant approved
Renewable energy company Drax Group has secured development consent from the Scottish Government for its plans to build a £500 million underground pumped storage hydro plant at its existing Cruachan facility in Argyll, Scotland.
The new 600 MW plant at Cruachan is part of a wider £7 billion strategic investment plan by Drax in clean energy technologies between 2024 and 2030, including long duration storage and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
Constructed next to the existing underground facility, the plant would effectively more than double the site’s total generation capacity to more than 1 GW.
The decision, made through the ‘Section 36’ infrastructure planning process, is a “significant moment in Scotland’s journey to net zero, with new long-duration storage plants critical to enabling more wind and solar power to come online in the next decade”, a Drax statement said.
The statement added that the expansion of Cruachan requires an updated financial stabilisation mechanism from the UK Government. “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 critical role in the decarbonisation process,” it continued.
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.