SSE is set to pledge £100 million to Britain’s biggest pumped hydro storage scheme in four decades.
Scotland’s cabinet secretary for net zero and energy representative will be in attendance as SSE makes the announcement at its facility in Perth and Kinross.
This will go towards Coire Glas, which is located on the shores of Loch Lochy, between Fort William and Inverness.
If approved, the facility is expected to require a capital investment of over £1.5 billion to construct and would be the first pumped hydro storage scheme to be built in the UK for 40 years.
The Scottish Government provided planning consent for the project in 2020.
Net Zero and Energy Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Today’s announcement is a significant and important milestone on the journey towards delivering the Coire Glas project.
“If built, Coire Glas will more than double Britain’s long-duration electricity storage capacity – allowing the grid to more flexibly deploy renewable electricity.
“The Scottish Government has long been supportive of pumped hydro storage capacity, which we believe will play a key role in the energy transition and is a vital component of a more flexible, resilient and secure electricity supply.
UK government approval
SSE still awaits the UK Government’s decision on how it intends to financially support the deployment of long-duration electricity storage, as set out in last year’s British Energy Security Strategy.
The firm says this could include the introduction by the UK Government of a ‘revenue stabilisation mechanism’ in the form of an adapted Cap and Floor scheme to support investment in long-duration storage.
Mr Matheson added: “It is critical that the UK Government puts in place the appropriate market and regulatory arrangements to support the industry’s development as a matter of urgency.
“Only with a supportive policy environment can this sector realise its full potential.”
The firm behind the project plans on making a final investment decision on the project by 2024, “subject to positive development progress and the prevailing policy environment,” the company wirtes.
Following this, there are plans to fully construct and commission the pumped storage scheme by 2031.
What is Corie Glas?
Once complete the project will have the potential of delivering 30GWh of long-duration storage.
When SSE starts production at the facility, the company claims it will reach the energy output to power three million homes in five minutes.
The firm added that this generation would be able to deliver energy 24 hours a day, providing “non-stop” flexible power.
The scheme would take excess energy from the grid to pump water 500 meters up a hill from Loch Lochy to an upper reservoir (equivalent to nearly 11,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools) where it would be stored before being released to power the grid when the wind cannot meet customer demand.
Coire Glas is expected to be one of the biggest engineering projects in the Scottish Highlands since the 1943 Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act.
At its peak, this project has the potential of creating 500 construction jobs in the area.
Around half of the £100m development investment will now be allocated to the pre-construction refinement phase of the Coire Glas project.
This includes aener package of site investigation works which have now commenced and will complete later this year.
The construction of a major exploratory tunnel to enable the project team to fully assess the geological conditions will also be included.
Finance director at SSE, Gregor Alexander, said: “Coire Glas will be one of the most ambitious energy infrastructure projects the UK has ever seen and is a key component of SSE’s commitment to helping lead Scotland and the UK’s energy transition.
“If delivered around the turn of the decade, Coire Glas could play a crucial role in getting the UK to net zero.
“Our investment commitment today also signals a significant down payment by SSE to keep this critical project moving forwards.
“And our ability to reach a positive final investment decision will clearly depend on the prevailing policy environment for long-duration electricity storage and long-term infrastructure projects more broadly.
“Whilst Coire Glas doesn’t need subsidy, it does require more certainty around its revenues and it is critically important the UK Government urgently confirms its intention on exactly how they will help facilitate the deployment of such projects.”