Analysis: Pumped storage is vital part of Scotland’s renewables future

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SCOTLAND has taken another significant step forward in the use of renewable energy thanks to SSE’s announcement.

Although Scotland has a rich history in developing hydro schemes, including pumped storage projects, the importance of the Great Glen proposal shouldn’t be overlooked; if built this will be by far the largest hydro project in Scotland with 600 megawatts of capacity.

Pumped hydro is in essence a battery which can store large amounts of energy when demand is low, to be used when required.

Scotland is an ideal home for pumped storage projects in which we have considerable expertise in this area. Today, those opportunities continue to grow with 150 jobs associated with the Coire Glas project and many more connected to the local supply chain in the Highlands. Pumped storage also complements the increasing amount of renewable energy in Scotland. In most cases, generation of renewables is dependent on when the wind is blowing or when we have high rainfall. The Great Glen project will allow us to store a huge proportion of this energy for use when needed. Ultimately, this means more renewable energy generated in Scotland can be used in Scotland, increasing energy security by reducing dependence on imported fossil fuels.

The SSE plan, combined with ScottishPower and National Grid’s announcement that a new £1 billion contract has been signed with Siemens and Prysmian to lay a subsea cable between Hunterston in Ayrshire and the Wirral, means our renewables sector is well on its way to ensuring all electricity generated is used, stored or exported.

Joss Blamire is the hydro policy manager at Scottish Renewables.