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Scottish and Southern Energy Proposal To Develop New Pumped Storage Schemes

Scottish & Southern Energy Scottish and Southern Energy plc ("SSE") is proposing to develop two new large scale pumped storage hydro electric schemes in the Great Glen. It is to seek from the Scottish Government its formal opinion on the scope of the environmental impact statement that would accompany planning applications for the schemes, currently planned to be submitted during 2011.

They would be the first pumped storage schemes to be developed in Great Britain since work began on the Dinorwig scheme in Wales in 1974. SSE has just completed the development of Great Britain's first large-scale conventional hydro electric station for 50 years at Glendoe, near Loch Ness, which is being officially opened by Her Majesty The Queen today (Monday 29 June).

SSE already owns and operates a 300MW (megawatt) pumped storage scheme at Foyers, on the south side of Loch Ness, which produces 300GWh of electricity in a typical year to help meet peak demand. It is also to submit to Scottish Ministers an application for consent to develop a 60MW pumped storage scheme at its existing Sloy hydro electric power station at Loch Lomond, allowing it to produce an additional 100GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity in a typical year to help meet peak demand.

Pumped storage schemes involve two bodies of water, located at different heights. During periods of low demand for power, electricity is used to pump water from the lower loch to the upper reservoir. This water is then released to create power at a time when demand is high. Amongst other things, pumped storage schemes complement the growing, but variable, amount of electricity produced by many renewable energy schemes, including wind farms.

Subject to final agreements and design, it is envisaged the proposed schemes would have an installed capacity of between 300MW and 600MW each and be able to produce in excess of 1,000GWh of electricity in a typical year to help meet peak demand. In both cases, the upper reservoirs would be large, enabling electricity generation to continue for longer periods, without the need to pump water from the loch below, than is the case for other pumped storage schemes in Great Britain.

Both schemes would require the construction of a dam in order to impound water and create the upper reservoirs, but it is currently envisaged that water pumping and electricity generation at both developments will be carried out under ground, thereby avoiding any visual impact in the Great Glen itself.

Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE, said:
"Our goal is to maintain a diversified portfolio of power stations, with the flexibility to respond to customer demand for electricity, while achieving a 50% reduction in the carbon dioxide intensity of electricity produced. Pumped storage can help us achieve this goal and, after 30 years, I believe is a technology whose time can come again."

Posted 29/06/09

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