Drax has named Studio Pietrangeli as Owner’s Engineer on its project to build a new 600MW underground plant adjacent to its existing underground Cruachan facility in Argyll, Scotland.

Studio Pietrangeli will support key activities including optimising the detailed design and layout of the new plant, providing expertise around the major civil engineering components of the project, such the excavation and tunnelling of rock within Ben Cruachan and preparing the specifications for a Front End Engineering and Design study. 

“This is a significant moment in Drax’s planned expansion of Cruachan,” commented Ian Kinnaird, Drax’s Scottish Assets Director. “The scale of the proposed development matches Drax’s ambitions when it comes to tackling the climate crisis. More than 2 million tonnes of rock will be excavated to create a new cavern inside the mountain which will be big enough to house Big Ben on its side.

“Pumped storage hydro is vital to strengthening the UK’s energy security by enabling more homegrown renewable electricity to come online, cutting the need to import power or fossil fuels from abroad. This will be a major infrastructure project which will support hundreds of jobs and provide a real boost to Scotland’s economy.”

Antonio Pietrangeli, Managing Partner of Studio Pietrangeli and Project Director for this assignment said: “SP is delighted to have been appointed as Owner’s Engineer to assist Drax in developing this important pumped storage plant. Pumped storage is becoming increasingly valuable in facilitating countries’ efforts to meet their carbon-reduction goals and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The Cruachan 2 plant will be a crucial step towards the UK’s achievement of these goals.”

Drax Group submitted an application to double generating capacity at its Cruachan pumped storage project in Scotland back in May 2022. The development will provide critical storage capacity to strengthen the UK’s energy security and enable net zero. It will be a major infrastructure project which will support around 900 jobs during six years of construction across the supply chain in a range of industries from quarrying and engineering, to transport and hospitality. Around 150 on-site local construction jobs will also be created during the development, said Drax.