We are familiar with the Loch Ness pumped hydroelectric storage system. A project that could double Scotland’s wind capacity and power 400,000 homes.

Scotland is pursuing an aggressive offshore wind program that includes innovative technologies such as floating wind farms. In fact, sometimes you have too much renewable energy available. Intelligent Land Investments claims to have the solution: a massive pumped 2.4 gigawatt-hour hydroelectric storage facility on the shores of Loch Ness. When completed, it could deliver up to 400 megawatts of electricity for six hours, a feat that Wired UK says could double Scotland’s wind capacity and power 400,000 homes.

This pumped hydraulic proposal will take advantage of the fact that an electric motor can also be a generator. A properly designed electric motor is happy to work in all directions.

The key to this pumped hydroelectric facility will be its electric turbines. The flowing water will cause them to spin the right way to generate electricity, but they can also reverse direction to pump water upward from a lower reservoir. This is exactly what Intelligent Land Investments plans to do on the shores of Loch Ness.

The great advantage of pumped hydroelectric storage is that the energy is available on demand., which means that it is available to be serviced when needed to supply the electrical network. A gas power plant takes a long time – half an hour or more – to start up. However, pumped hydropower can react as quickly as a storage battery, and under certain conditions the cost of storing the battery today can equal the cost of building a pumped hydropower system.

The other factor influencing storage batteries is that can be installed fairly quickly and with very little time for site preparation and clearance. The Loch Ness project will take years to complete, provided you get all the necessary approvals. Any storage facility can affect fragile ecosystems, but the size of any pumped hydroelectric facility means it will impact a large area. For Scots who fear the project could alter the ecosystem of the hills around Loch Ness, the company assures them that the landscape of the upper reservoir may resemble that of the surrounding lakes.

The upper lake will be located 100 meters (vertically) above the hydroelectric turbine and will require 2,650 meters of pipeline. The project will last approximately five years.

Currently, Loch Ness already has another pumped hydroelectric power station at the opposite end of the lake. Loch Ness is 36.3 km long and covers an area of ​​56.4 km2, so this may not be the last hydropower project pumped into the lake that we see.

A former gold mine in Australia has been converted into a pumped storage facility for hydrocarbons. Switzerland has one of the largest hydroelectric energy storage facilities in the world, with 1,450 MW of stored energy. And China is leading the way with new variable-speed generator technology that could make pumped hydropower more efficient. Whether or not the proposed storage facility is built near Loch Ness, pumped storage of hydropower will likely remain one of the tools that will advance the renewable energy revolution.

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Photo: redjohnpsh.co.uk