Scottish energy company SSE makes $120M investment in hydro-storage facility

The Pitlochry Dam. Scotland has made novel uses of its water resources for decades. Photo courtesy of SSE Renewables
1 of 2 | The Pitlochry Dam. Scotland has made novel uses of its water resources for decades. Photo courtesy of SSE Renewables

March 21 (UPI) -- Scottish energy company SSE Renewables said Tuesday it planned a major investment in what could be the region's largest hydro-storage facility, doubling existing capacity.

SSE said it was providing a $120 million investment in the so-called Coire Glas project, a project that could hold 30 gigawatt hours of long-term storage of water-based renewable energy.


"At the flick of a switch, Coire Glas would begin generating enough renewable energy to be able to power 3 million homes in just under five minutes," SSE stated. "Critically, the Coire Glas project could provide this level of firm, flexible power for up to 24 hours non-stop."

Hydro storage works by utilizing a series of reservoirs. Water moves uphill through the system when energy is ample and comes back downhill to drive turbines when resources are scarce.

The Scottish government has focused on novel renewable sources of energy for years, with German energy company RWE starting a prototype for turbines that run on wave energy in the early 2010s.

In February, a tidal energy array off the northern coast of Scotland, MeyGen, became the first facility of its kind to generate 50 gigawatt-hours of electricity over its lifespan.


Construction for the first phase of the MeyGen project began in January 2015 with the installation of four tidal turbines boasting a peak capacity of 1.5 megawatts each. A second phase could start as early as 2027 and developers are already in the planning stages for a 312 MW phase four.

Coire Glas received planning consent from the Scottish government in 2020 and SSE hopes to make a final investment decision on the facility next year. If approved, it could be up and running by the turn of the decade, making it the first such facility to be built in 40 years.

While it has Scotland's consent, SSE says it needs support from the government in London before moving forward.

"Whilst Coire Glas doesn't need subsidy, it does require more certainty around its revenues and it is critically important the U.K. government urgently confirms its intention on exactly how they will help facilitate the deployment of such projects," SSE's Finance Director Gregor Alexander said.

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