Plans for development of a 600MW pumped storage scheme in the Great Glen, Scotland, have taken a step forward with news that Scottish Ministers have granted consents for the project.
SSE's £800m Coire Glas scheme would be the first new large scale pumped storage scheme to be developed in Great Britain for over 30 years and could offer significant benefits to the country's electricity system in terms of capacity, balancing services and flexibility, particularly as the energy system moves towards an increasing amount of variable generation capacity.
The project will comprise a dam and reservoir, an underground cavern power station and underground tunnel system and an outlet area on the shore of Loch Lochy. Once completed the scheme would therefore have minimal visual impact in the Great Glen.
In a statement, SSE said that despite the obvious benefits that pumped storage offers, making a final investment decision to progress the project however will require overcoming a number of commercial and regulatory challenges. These include changes in the existing transmission charging regime for pumped storage and a satisfactory and supportive long-term public policy and regulatory framework. Therefore any final investment decision is unlikely before 2015 at the earliest.
“SSE is keen to engage further with both the UK and Scottish governments, as well as other relevant organisations, to develop an appropriate solution to address the commercial challenges that could enable what would be an important asset for the UK energy system to progress," commented Jim Smith, Managing Director of SSE Renewables.