Cut & pasted from the BBC News website:
“Scottish and Southern Energy Renewables has applied to build Scotland's biggest ever hydro electric scheme at the west end of the Great Glen. SSE plans a 600MW pumped storage scheme, which extracts, stores and releases electricity, near Loch Lochy.
The scheme, which would cost about £800m, could create 150 jobs. It would be the first pumped storage scheme since work began on a similar development in Wales almost 40 years ago. It would also be one of the largest construction projects in Scotland and require one of the largest dams ever built in the UK.
The dam would be constructed more than 90m above ground level, as well as having an underground power house, tunnels, two reservoirs and a jetty on the shores of Loch Lochy.
Hydro electric schemes, which use impounded water to generate electricity, are an excellent means of energy storage. Consequently, they naturally complement the variable output from the growing number of wind farms and play an important part in meeting peak demand”.
So: What would this look like in practice? Let’s look at a Scottish pumped storage scheme that is already built: Cruachan Power Station: On the map, it looks like this: NOTE: All the maps & pictures that follow can be viewed at a larger size by clicking on them.
CRUACHAN POWER STATION
An aerial view of it looks like this:
From this link you can see that Cruachan provides peak generation of 440MW of electrical power over a maximum time frame of 20 hours. This gives the total power capacity at about 8.8GWh (arrived at by multiplying 20 hours by 0.44GW)
Now let’s look at what SSE are proposing for the Loch a' choire ghlais scheme: From the BBC blurb above we can see that it has a maximum output of 600MW; that’s about half as big again as Cruachan.
This is the plan, lifted from SSE’s website:
The non technical summary can be found HERE. It’s written in simple English and isn’t too long. Worth five minutes to canter through it.
From Item 1.1.5 from the document they say that the total power capacity will be 30GWh. This means that they will be able to run the turbines continuously at 600MW for 50 hours. Comparing that to Cruachan’ 440MW for 20 hours, you can see that this is a pretty hefty power station.
Again, from SSE’s site, this is what the dam will look like in it’s setting:
Other points to note from their own summary:
It’s a five year construction period, so there will be pretty major disruption to the local area during this time. There will be 450,000 cubic metres of rock to dispose of. At a density of about 2.7 tons per cubic metre, that means about 1.22 million tons of rock. Let’s say an average truck takes away about 30 tons a load, that makes over 40,000 lorry journeys to dispose of the rock, so about 80,000 trips in all. Over the 36 month period envisaged that’s about 75 trips a day on average.
One of the huge drawbacks (there are oh, so many!) of wind energy is the dreadful intermittency. This project should at least go a small way to reducing that particular problem.
It is interesting to note from their summary that “A further potential pumped storage site was also identified on Balmacaan Estate, to the north of Invermoriston. SSE Renewables are also progressing this development, known as Balmacaan Pumped Storage scheme.”
I shall have to do some digging to see what they are proposing.
So! Having read all this and the supporting documentation, what do you think about it? I have my own thoughts on it but I would be interested to hear from everyone.
UPDATE: 5th NOVEMBER 2012
Highland Council has now given its approval to the scheme.
The decision will now be referred to Scottish government ministers. The council’s south planning applications committee said it had no objection to the proposals "subject to conditions being attached to any approval by Scottish ministers".
More information can be found by clicking HERE
UPDATE: 14th DECEMBER 2013
The project has now been given the green light by the Scottish Government. That didn’t take long.
From The Scotsman’s website:
AN £800 MILLION hydro-electric scheme – set to be the biggest ever in Scotland – has been given the green light by the Scottish Government.
Scottish & Southern Energy plans to construct the 600MW project at Coire Glas, near Spean Bridge, in Lochaber, with up to 150 jobs being created. The controversial project had been opposed by numerous conservation bodies including campaigners claiming it could damage tourism to the Highland beauty spot.
Energy minister Fergus Ewing yesterday granted planning consent for the hydro-electric pumped storage generating station, which will consist of a dam and reservoir at Loch a’ Choire Ghlais, an underground cavern power station and tunnel system and an outlet area on the shore of Loch Lochy.
It is designed to “soak up” excess power generated by wind and wave farms, using it to pump water up to a reservoir. That is then released through tunnels to generate electric power at times when consumers need it. Supporters describe such schemes as “green batteries”, but opponents argue they use more energy than they produce.
While generating, it will have the potential to provide up to 10 per cent of Scotland’s estimated peak electricity demand, powering up to 600,000 homes. The building programme is expected to last five to six years, creating 150 jobs during that time, Mr Ewing said.
“Energy storage has a key role to play as part of a balanced electricity mix in supporting security of supply requirements. Pumped storage stations can provide a valuable responsive supply to maintain the stability of the grid and help integrate renewable generating technologies,” he said.
“It is unique in the UK in comparison to other existing pumped storage schemes in its ability to release energy to the electricity grid for extended periods, offering an estimated 50 hours of continuous operation.”
However, Scottish Natural Heritage believes it would have a major negative impact on the local landscape and views would be significantly affected.
Expect to see a rash of approvals for more wind farms surrounding Loch Ness, as this project gives the developers a justification for their construction. The wind at night can be utilized to pump the water back up to the top reservoir.