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Six Scottish pumped storage hydro projects could create 15,000 jobs


Cruachan power station in Scotland Photo: Drax
Cruachan power station

Photo: Drax

Six projects currently under development in Scotland will more than double the UK’s pumped storage hydro capacity to 7.7 GW, create some 14,800 jobs and generate up to £5.8bn for the UK economy by 2035, a new report has found.

The report by Scottish Renewables and BiGGAR Economics studied the economic impact of six pumped storage hydro projects currently in development in Scotland – the Cruachan Expansion and Balliemeanoch projects, both in Argyll and Bute, Corrievarkie in Perth and Kinross, Glenmuckloch in Dumfries and Galloway and Red John, Coire Glas, in the Scottish Highlands.


These projects, if constructed, would add 4.9 GW to the UK’s existing capacity of 2.8 GW and go over halfway towards achieving the 15 GW of capacity that is expected to be needed by 2050. The report finds that once these projects are in development, pumped storage hydro could generate up to £14.8bn for the UK economy and create up to 9,400 jobs annually.


The report calls on the UK government to urgently deliver the measures it has promised to enable investment in large-scale, long duration energy storage so developers can deliver the existing pipeline of ‘shovel ready’ pumped storage hydro projects. As many technologies, such as offshore wind, are variable in their output, storage assets will be essential to support demands placed on the electricity network, the report says.


The report also notes that significantly more projects than the six studied will need to be delivered in order to reach the 15 GW of storage capacity that the UK government expects to be the minimum amount required to meet the needs of the energy system in 2050.


No pumped storage hydro facility has been commissioned since 1984.


Andrew MacNish Porter, Policy Manager for Economics and Markets at Scottish Renewables, comments: ‘From this report we know that pumped hydro storage is uniquely placed to deliver socio-economic benefits to communities across the UK and, as an established and proven technology, it will play a crucial role in achieving the UK government’s net zero ambitions and delivering energy security for consumers.’


Finlay McCutcheon, Director of Onshore Renewables (Europe), SSE Renewables, adds: ‘We stand ready to invest in this vital technology and call on the UK government to urgently confirm its intention for a market investment framework to facilitate the deployment of pumped storage hydro projects so that the sector can reach its vast potential.’