Hydro power can once again be a force for Scotland's good – Brian Wilson

As a long-standing advocate of hydro-electricity, I am delighted to see that progress is being made towards the adoption of pumped-storage hydro as an essential part of our future energy mix.

The Cruachan Dam in Argyll, a pump-storage hydro scheme, has been bought by power company Drax
The Cruachan Dam in Argyll, a pump-storage hydro scheme, has been bought by power company Drax

The simple fact is that we cannot increase the role of renewable generation which is intermittent without also making provision for times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine.

That means building back-up storage, importing by interconnectors or increasing the role of gas which is a fossil fuel. The first of these would be by far the most advantageous for the Scottish economy – and that, for the time being, means pumped-storage hydro.

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Drax, who bought Cruachan from Scottish Power, now want to double its capacity. SSE has schemes in the pipeline. So does the Buccleuch Estate in the south of Scotland ILI Group has just secured planning consent on the south side of Loch Ness, after a public inquiry.

One of hydro’s distinguishing features is that its construction phase immediately creates large numbers of jobs – which renewable energy has otherwise failed to deliver. This should tick every box on levelling-up, green jobs and de-carbonising our energy mix.

It is exactly the kind of issue on which Scottish and UK governments should work in harmony for mutually desirable outcomes. Scottish renewables need the UK market to fulfil their potential. As in the past, hydro-electricity can provide a huge economic boost for the areas in which it is located.

Let’s hope the political common sense exists to make it happen.

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