Scottish government green lights 450-MW Red John pumped storage hydro at Loch Ness

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ILI Group reports that the Scottish Government approved proposals for the 450-MW Red John pumped storage hydro scheme on the shores of Loch Ness.

The project was subject to a Public Local Inquiry last year, with the reporter’s findings and recommendation being submitted to ministers in February 2021 for consideration. 

Approval of this £550 million (US$770.4 million) project signals the start of a process that could see hundreds of millions of pounds invested in the local economy and bring up to 700 direct and indirect jobs, alongside wider benefits to the local area and Scotland as a whole, ILI Group said.

The the broader adoption of long-duration energy storage projects such as this is seen as essential to the further deployment of renewable energy projects across Scotland, with a pipeline of over 5 GW of pumped storage capacity in the UK across several different projects.

“We are delighted that the Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy, and Transport, Michael Matheson, has approved this project,” said Mark Wilson, chief executive officer of ILI Group. “This will help pave the way for hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and hundreds of new jobs in the area and will be another major step in Scotland’s ongoing journey to becoming a leader in renewable energy. This project alone will save over 45 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime. There is currently a pipeline of over 5GW of pumped storage in the UK but we need to work closely with the UK Government to implement the market mechanisms that are needed to drive investment into these projects to ensure we hit our net zero targets”.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, said: “The Scottish Government has long been supportive of pumped hydro storage for its role in ensuring resilience in our electricity supplies, and for the tremendous opportunity it provides to unlock the potential of renewable energy and support Scotland’s net zero ambitions.

“Scotland is a leader in this field, with excellent hydro-electric power heritage built over the last century and this new scheme at Loch Ness will only add to that. As we add more renewable electricity generation across Scotland, investing in pumped hydro storage will be key to balancing our electricity demand with supply and keeping the system secure, as well as creating high quality, green jobs and enabling a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why we continue to call on the UK Government to take the urgent action required in reserved areas to provide investors with improved revenue certainty and unlock potentially significant investment in new pumped storage capacity in Scotland.”

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