Stantec, a global leader in sustainable design and engineering services, has supported Drax, in gaining consent from the Scottish Government to expand the Cruachan pumped storage hydro power station in Argyll and Bute.
The Cruachan expansion project will see the construction of a new, linked, underground power station, providing up to 600 megawatts of additional generating capacity, linking to the National Grid in 2030.
Stantec’s interdisciplinary teams appointed by Drax, the owner and operator of Cruachan Power Station, provided the full range of technical, environmental, planning and consenting, and design services in support of the application. The fully integrated services provided by Stantec, delivered significant efficiencies in the consenting process for the project and has resulted in Scottish Ministers’ approval under Section.36 of the Electricity Act in July.
Pumped storage hydro schemes provide critical and efficient back up power to the national grid during periods of excess demand and when other sources are not available. The technology addresses intermittency issues with other renewable forms of electricity and supports the stability of the grid. The expansion of the facility will have a significant beneficial impact on the country’s energy storage capacity, supporting the UK’s transition to net-zero.
Built in the 1960s, the existing Cruachan power station is one of only four active pumped storage facilities in the United Kingdom. Locating the new power station adjacent to the existing one offers a unique opportunity to develop large scale energy storage capacity whilst maximising use of existing assets in Cruachan Reservoir and access roads and minimising disturbance to the surrounding environment.
Stantec’s collaborative approach between the design, environmental and consenting teams produced a concept design for the project, that was refined over time taking into account the environmental sensitivities of the location. Proposals were further honed through a public consultation process managed by Stantec, and informed by a range of technical, social and environmental assessments.
Stantec conducted innovative public consultation consisting of both in-person, and virtual events for local communities, making use of Stantec’s Community Engage ® platform. The scheme was met with a resoundingly positive reaction. Many local people have long standing connections to the existing Cruachan power station, having helped build or operate the plant or having family and friends who did. Drax and Stantec are excited to be working with that legacy whist developing the next chapter of Cruachan’s history.
Lynsey Fraser, Planning Director, Energy at Stantec commented: “We need to do everything we can to fast-track innovative, sustainable energy projects like this. As we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, we must build energy storage and renewable generation capacity to ensure electricity demand can be met in the context of climate change.
“The Cruachan expansion scheme is a fantastic example of an energy project directly benefiting local communities. It will deliver material boosts to job numbers, and local economic activity, whilst enabling the roll-out of low-carbon power. The expansion of Cruachan will also support national energy resilience and stability. We were delighted to receive such a positive reaction from the local community and we’re looking forward to helping Drax deliver this vital project.”
Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said: “This is a major milestone in Drax’s plans to build Britain’s first new pumped storage hydro plant in a generation.
“These plants play a critical role in stabilising the electricity system, helping to balance supply and demand through storing excess power from the national grid. When Scotland’s wind turbines are generating more power than we need, Cruachan steps in to store the renewable electricity so it doesn’t go to waste.
“With the right support from the UK Government, Drax will invest c.£500m to more than double Cruachan’s generating capacity and support almost 1,000 jobs during construction.”
No investment decision has yet been taken by Drax and development remains subject to an appropriate regulatory framework among other considerations.
The importance of the expansion is reflected in the project’s recognition as a National Development under Scotland’s National Planning Framework.
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