Coire glas hydro scheme
- Category: Renewables
- Energy type: Hydro
- Project type: Project
First new large scale pumped storage scheme to be developed in UK for over 30 years
Coire Glas 600MW pumped storage scheme, near Loch Lochy, gained consent in December 2013 and would more than double the total volume of current pumped storage capacity in the UK. The scheme is capable of delivering 30GWh of electricity to the system, meaning that, at maximum capacity, the water in the upper reservoir could provide up to 450MW of power to the grid for nearly three days.
Hydro pumped storage, a technology which has been around for over 100 years and has proven itself to be indispensable to the electricity system, can respond very quickly if the system requires it, similar to other forms of storage. But its unique benefit is that it can store and then flexibly generate a lot of electricity over a sustained period of time.
A recent report by published by Scottish Renewables stated “ It is widely acknowledged that greater flexibility is required in the electricity system of Great Britain (GB) to decarbonise at acceptable cost to consumers. In its Smart Power report, the National Infrastructure Commission estimated that greater flexibility could save consumers up to £8bn annually by 2030.
Pumped Storage Hydro (PSH) is one of the best proven technologies available at scale to provide the required flexibility. It delivers many operational and cost benefits to the GB electricity system as well as wider societal and environmental benefits”
The report outlines the 20 key benefits of the technology’s expansion in the UK. Click here to read the full report, titled The Benefits of Pumped Storage Hydro to the UK.
Although consent for Coire Glas scheme was granted in December 2013 and despite the obvious benefits that pumped storage offers, making a Final Investment Decision to progress the Coire Glas scheme will require overcoming a number of commercial and regulatory challenges. These include changes in the existing transmission charging regime for pumped storage and a satisfactory and supportive long-term public policy and regulatory framework. Therefore any final investment decision is unlikely before 2017 at the earliest.
• £800m project
• 600MW capacity
• 500m between the upper and lower reservoir sites
• Helps balance the grid
Pumped storage schemes involve two bodies of water at different heights. During periods of low demand for power, electricity is used to pump water from the lower loch to the upper reservoir. The water is released to create energy at a time when demand is high. A key advantage of developing a pumped storage scheme at Coire Glas is the site's proximity to a large lower reservoir (Loch Lochy). There is significant elevation of around 500m between the upper and lower reservoir sites over a relatively short distance.
SSE welcomes Scottish Ministers’ consent granted for its Coire Glas pumped storage hydro electric scheme to the north-west of Loch Lochy in the Great Glen.
If Coire Glas does get built it could be Scotland’s biggest ever pumped storage scheme. But how do such schemes work?
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The proposed scheme involves constructing a dam and the creation of a new reservoir formed at Loch a' Choire Ghlais. Water will be transferred between the new reservoir and an underground cavern power station via a headrace tunnel; and between the power station and Loch Lochy via a tailrace tunnel.
It could offer significant benefits to the GB electricity system in terms of capacity, balancing services and flexibility, particularly as the energy system moves towards an increasing amount of variable generation capacity.
The Scottish Ministers granted Coire Glas consent in December 2013 meaning it could be the first new large scale pumped storage scheme to be developed in Great Britain for over 30 years.
The combination of the size, flexibility and short response time means that Coire Glas, and pumped storage schemes generally, can provide a range of benefits across the whole GB electricity system in a way that no other proven technology can. However, despite the obvious benefits that pumped storage offers, making a Final Investment Decision to progress the Coire Glas scheme will require overcoming a number of commercial and regulatory challenges. These include changes in the existing transmission charging regime for pumped storage and a satisfactory and supportive long-term public policy and regulatory framework.
All of this means that a decision on whether to progress with Coire Glas will not be taken before 2015 at the earliest.
Pumped storage briefing - November 2013
Figure one location map - February 2012
Figure two scheme overview - February 2012
Figure three visualisation - February 2012
Figure four visualisation - February 2012
Non technical summary - February 2012
Exhibition boards - November 2011
Flyer - November 2011
Scheme location - May 2009
Context - May 2009
Preliminary scheme arrangement - May 2009