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.
Aidan Kerr, Senior Media Manager
E: [email protected]
- Drax applied for development consent from the Scottish Government under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989 in May 2022, with the application granted in July 2023.
- A report by KPMG for Drax found that a Cap and Floor regime was the standout solution to unlock private investment in the technology while incentivising system needs to be met efficiently.
- No investment decision has yet been taken by Drax and construction remains subject to an appropriate regulatory framework among other considerations.
Drax Group’s purpose is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future and in 2019 announced a world-leading ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) technology.
Drax’s around 3,000 employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production and supply to third parties. For more information visit www.drax.com
Drax owns and operates a portfolio of renewable electricity generation assets in England and Scotland. The assets include the UK’s largest power station, based at Selby, North Yorkshire, which supplies five percent of the country’s electricity needs.
Having converted Drax Power Station to use sustainable biomass instead of coal it has become the UK’s biggest renewable power generator and the largest decarbonisation project in Europe. It is also where Drax is piloting the groundbreaking negative emissions technology BECCS within its CCUS (Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage) Incubation Area.
Its pumped storage, hydro and energy from waste assets in Scotland include Cruachan Power Station – a flexible pumped storage facility within the hollowed-out mountain Ben Cruachan.
The Group also aims to build on its BECCS innovation at Drax Power Station with a target to deliver 4 million tonnes of negative CO2 emissions each year from new-build BECCS outside of the UK by 2030 and is currently developing models for North American and European markets.
Pellet production and supply:
The Group has 19 operational pellet plants and developments with nameplate production capacity of around 5 million tonnes a year.
Drax is targeting 8 million tonnes of production capacity by 2030, which will require the development of over 3 million tonnes of new biomass pellet production capacity. The pellets are produced using materials sourced from sustainably managed working forests and are supplied to third party customers in Europe and Asia for the generation of renewable power.
Drax’s pellet plants supply biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses, and also to customers in Europe and Asia.
Drax supplies renewable electricity to UK businesses, offering a range of energy-related services including energy optimisation, as well as electric vehicle strategy and management.
To find out more go to the website www.energy.drax.com