Drax Group has begun the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station to double the generating capacity at its Cruachan plant in Scotland.
The project will support almost 900 jobs in rural areas across Scotland during construction and will provide storage capacity needed to support a net zero power system, said Drax.
The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to over 1GW.
The new power station would be built within a new, hollowed-out cavern which would be large enough to fit Big Ben on its side, to the east of Drax’s existing 440MW pumped storage hydro station.
More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to create the cavern and other parts of the power station.
The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations.
By using reversible turbines to pump water from Loch Awe to the upper reservoir on the mountainside, the station can store power from wind farms when supply outstrips demand.
The stored water would then be released back through the turbines to generate power quickly and reliably when demand increases.
Brendan O’Hara, Argyll & Bute MP, said: “I am delighted that Drax is progressing plans to expand the Ben Cruachan site.
“This will support 900 rural jobs and create a pumped storage facility that will be able to provide enough renewable energy to power a million homes while helping us reach our 2045 net zero target, it is great news for this area and for Scotland.”