Scottish Renewables and the British Hydropower Association have jointly written a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging the UK Government to provide immediate support for the deployment of long-duration electricity storage, specifically pumped storage hydro (PSH).

In their correspondence, the trade bodies emphasized that by endorsing investments in long-duration electricity storage, the UK Government can simultaneously decrease consumer bills, reduce CO2 emissions, and diminish the nation's reliance on imported gas.

As the UK strives to achieve its net-zero targets, the acquisition of additional clean energy becomes imperative. However, given the variable output of numerous technologies, such as offshore wind, energy storage is crucial to ensure that low-cost power generated from renewables can be effectively delivered to consumers during peak demand periods.

Presently, the Government plans to implement policies to enable PSH investment by 2024. Nevertheless, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee has recently recommended advancing this timeline to 2023. Scottish Renewables and the British Hydropower Association have wholeheartedly endorsed this recommendation.

Investing in PSH offers the following benefits to the UK Government the association’s said:

  • Reduce annual constraint costs: Constraint costs refer to payments made to electricity generators to balance the supply and demand of electricity generation. These costs reached a staggering £1.94 billion in 2022. PSH has the potential to mitigate these expenses by facilitating greater utilization of generation in constrained areas and reducing the need for costly grid reinforcement. If PSH is deployed, system cost savings of up to £680 million per year by 2050 could be realized.
  • Enhance energy security: The recent energy price crisis demonstrated that transitioning to clean, domestically-produced renewable energy is the only sustainable path to achieving energy security. PSH is a tried and tested technology capable of storing energy for utilization during periods of high demand.
  • Attract investment: Amid increasing global competition for clean energy investment, particularly from the USA and the EU, developers urgently require the UK Government to establish an appropriate investment framework that secures low-cost financing for their PSH projects. By doing so, the UK can position itself as a favorable destination for clean energy investments.
  • Reduce consumer bills: Accelerating the deployment of long-term energy storage is essential to establishing the UK's net-zero energy system, which represents the most effective approach to reducing energy bills for consumers in the long run.

“As we move towards a cleaner, greener future with more and more renewable power added to the electricity network we know that long-duration electricity storage, such as pumped storage hydro, will be essential for ensuring energy security and keeping bills low for consumers,”  Andrew MacNish Porter, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, commented. “A recent report which Scottish Renewables commissioned from BiGGAR Economics found that six projects currently under development in Scotland will more than double the UK’s pumped storage hydro capacity to 7.7GW, create almost 15,000 jobs and generate up to £5.8 billion for the UK economy by 2035.

“We need to get these shovel-ready projects into construction right away and urge the Prime Minister and the UK Government to deliver an investment framework that will unlock the huge value of pumped storage hydro as soon as possible.”

Kate Gilmartin, Chief Executive at the British Hydropower Association, emphasized the centrality of pumped storage hydro in helping the UK Government achieve its net-zero ambitions. “We must think holistically and understand that energy security will only be delivered with the diverse mix of technologies needed to provide an operable, stable decarbonised grid,” she said. “The UK Government must urgently support investment in pumped storage hydro to meet those aims.”