Plans lodged for Loch Kemp pumped storage hydro scheme

Plans lodged for Loch Kemp pumped storage hydro scheme

A planning application has been submitted for a pumped storage hydro scheme at Loch Kemp near Whitebridge.

As well as reducing carbon emissions and delivering greater energy security, construction of the scheme will give a £30 million boost to the Highland economy and a further £57m to the Scottish economy. The scheme would provide up to 25 high quality long term jobs.

It is two years since Statera Energy, the developer of flexible energy generation and storage technologies, initially unveiled its plans at public exhibitions in November and December 2021. Now, after extensive survey work and consultation with the local community as well as various statutory consultees, the project team has finalised the plans.

‘Loch Kemp Storage’ would be located on the south side of Loch Ness, at Whitebridge, north east of Fort Augustus. The application is to build and operate a new 600MW pumped storage scheme utilising the existing Loch Kemp as the upper storage reservoir and Loch Ness as the lower reservoir.

David Rodger, Statera Energy’s business development director in Scotland, said: “We believe this is an ideal site for a pumped storage hydro scheme. By making some adjustments to the height of Loch Kemp we can provide an energy storage solution which is much less obtrusive and has less impact for local residents.

“We’ve carried out two rounds of public exhibitions and have been delighted by the positive reception we’ve received. We’ve listened carefully to concerns and made adjustments to plans to reflect comments made during the consultation process.

“Improving energy security is vitally important and this is one part of the jigsaw. Pumped storage hydro can be deployed on a large scale and Loch Kemp would increase the UK’s pumped storage hydro capacity by one fifth. It’s also one of the most efficient of any of the energy storage systems.

“This application marks another considerable step in our mission to expand our activities in Scotland and be the UK leader in providing flexible generation and storage to help balance a high-renewables electricity system and provide energy security.”

Through its ability to optimise the electricity generated from renewables by storing and releasing it when it is required, pumped storage hydro schemes have a significant role to play in the UK’s transition to net zero.

Loch Kemp presents a material opportunity to help lower carbon emissions and better manage the country’s energy system; the project has the potential to generate for 15 hours at full capacity, the equivalent of powering over one million homes.

Scotland’s mountains and large inland lochs, combined with plentiful renewables generation and high rainfall, makes it an optimum location for pumped hydro storage. This particular project also offers significant efficiency benefits, given the shorter water routes, the lowered construction risks, and the existing top loch.

The project is expected to have significant benefits for the local economy, injecting around £30 million to the local economy and employing more than 350 people each year, during the four-year construction phase. Longer term the scheme will provide generational employment during operations, with up to 25 high quality permanent jobs.

Since its first public exhibition in 2021, Statera has conducted a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, the results of which form part of the planning application which will now be considered by Highland Council before a final decision is made by the Energy Consents Unit of the Scottish Parliament.

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