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09 Jan 2024

Drax responds to Government progress on electricity storage investment framework

Drax Group
Drax responds to Government progress on electricity storage investment framework

The UK Government’s selection of a cap and floor regime as its preferred investment framework for new large-scale, long-duration electricity storage projects has been welcomed by renewable energy leader Drax.

Drax is progressing plans to expand its existing Cruachan pumped storage facility in Scotland through the construction of a new 600 MW plant. Built adjacent to the existing underground facility, the new plant would effectively more than double the site’s total generation capacity to over 1 GW.

The proposal received development consent from the Scottish Government through the Section 36 process in July 2023. Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, welcomed the initiative during a visit to Cruachan last year. Mr Yousaf said the expansion would “strengthen our energy security by providing much needed resilience in the system” and be “a real boost to the Scottish economy.”

Despite their critical role in decarbonisation, the existing lack of a suitable investment framework means it is challenging to secure private investment for projects such as new-build pumped storage hydro plants. No new plants of this kind have been built in the UK since 1984.

Growing the UK’s pumped storage hydro capacity is an important factor in enabling more wind and solar power to come online. Pumped storage plants act like giant water batteries by using reversible turbines to pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir, which stores excess power from sources such as wind farms when supply outstrips demand. These same turbines are then reversed to bring the stored water back through the plant’s turbines to generate power when the country needs it.

Ian Kinnaird, Drax’s Scottish Assets Director, said:

“This is a big step towards making a new generation of pumped storage hydro plants a reality. These new plants would enhance UK national energy security and play a significant role in the fight against climate change.

“Pumped storage stabilises 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.

“We look forward to working constructively with the UK Government and other stakeholders to help deliver a policy environment which secures investment, strengthens our energy security, and delivers for consumers. Drax is ready to move mountains to tackle climate change.”

Drax’s exciting plans for Cruachan could create and support almost 1,000 jobs during the construction phase.

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