Use pump storage and renewables to fill nuclear gap, says firm responding to BEIS consultation

View from the top: Looking down from the Cruachan Dam, part of a pumped storage hydroelectric power station used to regulate supply and demand on the UK power network, in the West Highlands of Scotland.

BEIS Energy Infrastructure inquiry receives evidence from Scottish company proposing pump storage hydro as “vital enabler” for alternative to failing Government nuclear plans

A Scottish company has called on the UK Government to put pump storage hydro at the heart of its strategy to meet the challenge of secure, low-carbon electricity supply in the decades ahead.

3 April is the closing date for submissions to a consultation initiated by the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee to investigate the power system’s fitness for purpose following the collapse of plans for two new nuclear power stations.

The inquiry is looking at the challenges to raising finance for clean technologies like renewables and storage and at the Governments whole approach to attracting Investment in energy.

Mark Wilson ILI Group CEO said “We have today submitted our written evidence to the inquiry, stating our belief that the gap left by nuclear can be filled by greater deployment of renewables in combination with new Pumped Storage Hydro plants. There are currently over 4GW of PSH in the pipeline.

“Several organisations have indicated that they feel doubling the Government’s target of 30% generation from offshore wind (to 45%) is required to meet our obligations. Underpinning this with pump storage would provide the necessary flexibility, it would be cheaper overall with none of the issues that come with Nuclear.

“However, this will only be possible if Governments and policy makers create the necessary market and commercial environment to support major infrastructure investments such as PSH”

Mr Wilson added: “We believe this can be done while meeting the Government’s own test criteria for energy investments that was laid out in the context of Hinkley Point C”

Pumped Storage Hydro allows the Grid to store energy that cannot be absorbed naturally by consumers during times of peak wind or solar generation. It does this by using this energy to pump water from a lower reservoir to a top reservoir. Here the water can be held until times of demand where it is released to the lower reservoir through turbines generating electricity like a conventional hydro plant, this process can be repeated as required.

Former UK Energy Minister, Brian Wilson, said: “One way or another, there has to be back-up to the intermittency of renewable generation, and this creates a huge opportunity for UK industry. In Scotland, Pumped Storage Hydro – which provides 95 per cent of storage around the world – is the obvious answer instead of relying on imports via interconnectors.

“Hydro power has served Scotland exceptionally well in the past and can do so for many years to come. This is an opportunity to give an established technology a new lease of life with huge potential benefits for the Scottish economy while at the same time helping to solve the inescapable challenges posed by reliance on renewable generation”.

ILI Group have over 2GW of Pump-storage Hydro in the pipeline with their first 450MW development Red John in Inverness currently in planning, with 2 more projects to be submitted later this year.