Wed. Nov 30th, 2022
Loch Ness, seen from Fort Augustus in Scotland.
enlarge / Loch Ness, seen from Fort Augustus in Scotland.

Getty Images (Jeff J Mitchell)

A company called Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) is proposing a massive 2.4 gigawatt-hour hydroelectric project right next to the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland. Dubbed “Red John”, after the Scottish name for a well pool in the area, the project could provide up to 400 megawatts of power for six hours – a feat that Fixed UK say Scotland’s already significant wind capacity could double.

Pumped hydropower is an old concept, and such systems have been used to store energy long before utility-scale chemical batteries were economically viable. Pumped hydropower projects require both a lower and higher reservoir. When there is enough electricity, pumps work to lift water from the lower reservoir to the higher reservoir; when electricity is scarce, operators use gravity to send water from the upper reservoir through a turbine and back to the lower reservoir, generating greenhouse gas-free electricity.

A diagram of the Red John project.

A diagram of the Red John project.

Intelligent Land Investments

The advantage of pumped hydro is that it is disbatchable. While wind turbines and solar panels need wind and sun to generate electricity, energy from pumped hydropower is available whenever we want. Scotland, in particular, has been aggressive in adding offshore wind to its energy mix, but you can only build so many wind turbines before you need to add energy storage or develop huge transmission projects because if the wind declines in one region, the power has to be added to the grid to maintain a constant frequency.

A map of the proposed site for this pump storage project.

A map of the proposed site for this pump storage project.

Intelligent Land Investments

A pumped hydropower project like Red John could meet that need, enabling more offshore wind construction for Scotland. In 2017, offshore wind construction in the country increased by 37 percent.

Currently, the project still has a long way to go. It must be approved by the appropriate regulatory authorities and can then take years to build. For the Red John project, 5.4 million m . needed3 upper reservoir, according to the ILI’s website, and it could lead to habitat loss and other negative effects often associated with hydropower projects. Still, according to the BBC, the developers of the project say they can make the upper reservoir resemble the surrounding lakes.

The BBC also notes that there is another hydroelectric and pumped hydroelectric power station on the eastern shore of Loch Ness, so it wouldn’t be the first on the site.

By akfire1

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