Under the plans, a second underground power station will be built adjacent to the existing one to enable Cruachan to play an even bigger role in supporting the expansion of renewable energy sources such as wind power and provide lifeline stability services to the national grid.
Around 900 jobs will be created and indirectly supported during the new power station’s construction, providing a huge boost to communities around Loch Awe and across Argyll.
Local people will have the opportunity to learn more about the proposals during two consultation exhibitions when members of the project team will be on hand to answer questions and discuss the planning process, design stages, works programme, construction and operation of the expansion to Cruachan:
- Dalmally Community Centre: Tuesday 30th November, 1.30pm – 7.30pm
- Taynuilt Village Hall: Wednesday 1st December, 1.30pm – 7.30pm
Steve Marshall, Drax’s Development Manager, said:
“We are keen to hear from as many people as possible over the two days, so we encourage anyone living locally who can attend the exhibitions to come along. Cruachan has created and supported jobs in Argyll for more than 50 years and through our exciting expansion plans we will ensure the station remains at the heart of the community, as well as Scotland’s energy system, for many decades to come.
“The recent COP 26 climate conference in Glasgow underlined the need to invest in renewables to decarbonise our economy. In 2020 enough wind power to supply a million homes went to waste in the UK because there wasn’t enough capacity to ensure this excess renewable power was stored and made available when it was needed. By expanding Cruachan we will help to stop that from happening, by ensuring more renewable power is available to Scotland’s homes and businesses, when they need it, reducing costs whilst helping the planet.”
A further exhibition will be held in early 2022 prior to submission of a Section 36 application to the Scottish Government for their consideration. The submission is expected to be made in spring, with a decision from the government expected to be received in 2023.
The project requires a new financial stability support mechanism from the UK government to secure private investment in long-duration storage sites such as Cruachan. If this is developed and the planning application is approved, then work to build the new capacity at Cruachan could get underway in 2024, with the facility operational in 2030.
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- Copies of the exhibition boards and other materials will also be available for viewing and download via the website at cruachanexpansion.comfrom 29th November or they can be viewed at Cruachan Visitor Centre from 2nd December.
- The exhibitions in November/December follow a virtual consultation which took place in July.
- Independent analysis by Lane, Clark and Peacock (LCP) found the UK curtailed 3.6TWh of wind power last year, enough renewable electricity to supply around a million homes.
- A separate independent report by academics from Imperial College London recently found that just 4.5 GW of new pumped storage hydro could save up to £690m per year in energy system costs by 2050.
- The Scottish Government has recognised the need for additional pumped storage within the recently published Draft National Planning Framework 4, and the benefits this could bring to Argyll and Scotland.
- No investment decision has yet been taken by Drax and development remains subject to the right regulatory framework with the UK government.
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.
Its 3,400 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.
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.
Pellet production and supply:
Drax owns and has interests in 17 pellet mills in the US South and Western Canada which have the capacity to manufacture 4.9 million tonnes of compressed wood pellets (biomass) a year. 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 mills supply around 20% of the biomass used at its own power station in North Yorkshire, England to generate flexible, renewable power for the UK’s homes and businesses.
Through its two B2B energy supply brands, Haven Power and Opus Energy, Drax supplies energy to 250,000 businesses across Britain.