This blog was written by Drax strategic partner of Forum 2021.
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Moving mountains to meet net zero
Drax has announced plans to kickstart the planning process for expanding its iconic Cruachan Power Station in Argyll. Cruachan’s expansion will unlock more renewable electricity to power homes and businesses across the country and create hundreds of jobs in rural Scotland.
The project, announced ahead of Glasgow hosting the COP26 climate conference, will involve building a new underground pumped storage hydro power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at the existing power station.
Pumped storage hydro is a critical technology which enables more renewable power and supports Scotland’s electricity system by providing much needed storage capacity to enable a net zero power system.
Like Drax’s existing site, the new station will be able to provide lifeline stability services to the power system alongside acting like a giant water battery. By using reversible turbines to pump water from Loch Awe to the upper reservoir on the mountainside, the station can store power from wind farms when supply outstrips demand.
The stored water would then be released back through the turbines to generate power quickly and reliably when demand increases. This will help to cut energy costs by reducing the need for wind farms to be paid to turn off when they are generating excess power. The new station would have the capacity to generate enough power for around a million homes.
Utilising Scotland’s vast renewable resource is key to meeting net zero and decarbonising the electricity system within the next decade. Last year, the UK’s lack of energy storage capacity meant wind farms had to be paid to turn off and we lost out on enough renewable power to supply a million homes. We need to stop renewable power from going to waste by storing it, and Drax is ready to move mountains to do just that. Find out more at www.cruachanexpansion.com.