Heavy loads safely delivered to iconic power station

Drax has successfully transported two 115-tonne transformers 80 miles across Scotland and through the Western Highlands to their new home at the company’s Cruachan ‘Hollow Mountain’ pumped storage hydro power station.

Drax Transformer to Cruachan move

The unusually large loads were transported separately during the night to reduce any disruption to other road users and required two short road closures on the A82 between Crianlarich and Tyndrum, as well as the temporary reinforcement of a bridge at Inverherive, to ensure it could withstand the weight.

The transformers were built for use at Cruachan but were held in long-term storage at Longannet power station, which is being decommissioned. The transformers were part of Drax’s acquisition of a portfolio of flexible, low-carbon and renewable power generating assets, which completed at the end of last year and included Cruachan power station.

Ian Kinnaird, Drax Head of Hydro, said:

“Cruachan is a vital piece of our generating portfolio as it can provide power at short notice, helping to plug the gaps when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine.

“Moving this important infrastructure to Cruachan means we have a couple of spares available on site, so we’ll be able to reduce the length of time a generating unit is out of action should a transformer require repairing, enabling us to get back up and running more quickly.”

Cruachan is one of only four pumped hydro storage stations in the UK and has a capacity of 440 MW – enough to power more than 90,000 homes at times of peak demand.

Built on the shores of Loch Awe in Argyll and Bute, it was the first reversible pumped storage hydro system on this scale to be built in the world.

The transformers were stripped back to the core to make them lighter and able to fit under bridges. The size of the load limited driving speeds to an average of about 10 miles per hour. The units were relocated in stages over two weeks, with the moves completed on Tuesday October 1. The transformers are now being reassembled on site at Cruachan.

Driving the transformer up to Drax’s Cruachan pumped storage hydro power station.

Road closures were carried out in accordance with the requirements of local police and transport authorities, who planned the timing of the closures to cause the least inconvenience to other road users.

TOP IMAGE: Driving the transformer over temporary bridge reinforcement at Inverherive.


Media contacts:

Ali Lewis
Drax Group Head of Media & PR
E: [email protected]
T: 07712670888

Selina Williams
Drax Group Media Manager
E: [email protected]
T: 07912230393

Editor’s Notes

  • Each transformer weighs 115 tonnes and measures more than 2.5 metres high. The transformer, transport trailer and tractor unit together weighed over 200 tonnes.
  • Cruachan became part of the Drax Group through an acquisition that completed on 31 December 2018.
  • The turbine hall is located 1 km within the hollowed-out mountain of Ben Cruachan and houses four generators. The plant has four primary modes of operation and can deliver a range of balancing and ancillary services essential for supporting the electricity grid and maintaining secure supplies.
  • Cruachan acts responsively by generating electricity to meet peak-time demand. It can achieve full load in 30 seconds and can maintain its maximum power production for more than 16 hours if necessary.
  • Cruachan Power Station is also a popular tourist destination. Guided tours are available through the Cruachan website with visitors and school groups welcomed between February and mid-December.

About Drax

Drax Group’s ambition is to enable a zero carbon, lower cost energy future. Its 2,600-strong employees operate across three principal areas of activity – electricity generation, electricity sales to business customers and compressed wood pellet production.

Power generation:

Drax owns and operates a portfolio of flexible, low carbon and renewable electricity generation assets across Britain. 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 two thirds of 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.

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.  It also owns and operates four gas power stations in England.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk


Drax owns two B2B energy supply businesses:

  • Haven Power, based in Ipswich, supplies electricity and energy services to large Industrial and Commercial sector businesses.
  • Opus Energy, based in Oxford, Northampton and Cardiff, provides electricity, energy services and gas to small and medium sized (SME) businesses.

Pellet production:

Drax owns and operates three pellet mills in the US South which manufacture compressed wood pellets (biomass) produced from sustainably managed working forests. These pellet mills supply around 20% of the biomass used by Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.

For more information visit www.drax.com/uk