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Cruachan Dam

Scotland Plans New Pumped Storage Power

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Upgrade for Hollow Mountain could be instrumental in Scotland’s transition to a low carbon economy

Scotland is planning to add more hydro power to its existing generating site in the mountains at Cruachan, nicknamed the “Hollow Mountain”. This is a “pumped storage” power station – an important part of the generating system. Ingeniously, this uses off-peak electricity, particularly at night, when power stations or renewables are running – but there is little need for the power – to pump water up from a lower reservoir into a high one, where it can be released in seconds when needed to add electricity to the grid. It is basically a giant battery.

Scottish Power have just announced the intention to investigate more than doubling the capacity of this iconic Ben Cruachan pumped storage station, housed in a gigantic man-made cavern beneath breathtaking mountains on the west side of Scotland.

The underground turbine hall
The underground turbine hall

Welcoming the announcement, First Minister Alex Salmond said, “Combined with other planned developments around Scotland, this major announcement today heralds a renaissance in hydro and pump storage energy, and opens another chapter in our outstanding history of harnessing renewables.

“In 1945, fewer than half of the homes in the highlands had access to electricity. By 1959, that proportion had increased to over 90 per cent through the forethought and leadership of Tom Johnston, who led the hydro-electric revolution.”

Cruachan aerial view
Cruachan aerial view

This increase could see hydro power produce up to one third of Scotland’s entire generating capacity in the next decade. Scotland has been in the forefront of utilising renewable energy in the UK. In 2012, renewable sources delivered 40.3% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland, up from 36% in 2011 and well on the way to meeting their interim target of 50% by 2015. Eventually it is hoped that Scotland would be 100% powered by renewable electricity, which would certainly be a formidable achievement and would show how it is possible to have a modern economy powered without fossil fuels.

http://www.visitcruachan.co.uk/default.asp

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