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SSE doubles capacity of £800m Scottish hydro plans

The developer behind a £800m hydroelectric plant in northern Scotland have submitted an updated planning application to more than double its capacity.

Energy giant SSE has submitted an application to the Scottish Government to build the Coire Glas pumped hydroelectric scheme near Fort William at an increased capacity of up to 1,500 MW.

The company was granted planning approval back in 2013 for a 600 MW hydro scheme, which at the time was estimated to cost £800m.

SSE said it was now seeking to increase the capacity to 1,500 MW in order to maximise the site’s potential.

Despite increasing the proposed capacity, SSE said there would be very little change to the external elements of the scheme, with most of changes taking place underground.

The pump storage system involves two bodies of water at different heights.

When power demand is low, electricity is used to pump water from the lower loch to the upper reservoir. When demand becomes high, the water is released back down to the loch to create energy.

The completed Coire Glas project will have a storage capacity of 30 GWh and will more than double the UK’s current hydro pumped storage capacity of 24 GWh.

It will be the largest hydro project to be built in Scotland and the first new pumped storage scheme in Britain since 1974.

SSE project manager Andy Gregory said: “Since the 1940s SSE has been building hydro schemes to deliver renewable energy to the UK.

“Submitting the planning application for Coire Glas is the first step towards building a new hydro project for SSE and continuing our hydro heritage.

“Pumped storage can and does play a significant role in making the UK’s electricity system more efficient, reliable and secure for the future.” 

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