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Off Grid Energy Independence
Posted on July 09, 2018

Red John hydro scheme a game changer for renewables

Details of the ILI Group's proposed Red John pump storage hydro project in Scotland's Highlands have been released. Plans for a new 400MW pumped hydro scheme east of Loch Ness will provide new energy storage that is fundamental to Scotland's renewable ambitions. For more information see the IDTechEx report on off grid zero-emission electricity.
Storage is an essential enabler in the energy transition, allowing the Grid to store energy that cannot be absorbed naturally by consumers during times of peak wind or solar generation. Pumped storage hydro (PSH) is the cleanest energy storage technology currently available, offering the largest capacity.
The Red John scheme will see water pumped between Loch Ness and a newly created upper headpond which will use the natural topography between Loch Duntelchaig, Loch Ashie and Loch na Curra and Lochan an Eoin Ruadha, from where the development gets the Red John name.
The developer of the Red John PSH, Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) of Hamilton, says it is also keen for the community to take a stake in what could be a 'transformational' development.
Mark Wilson, CEO of ILI, said: "Renewable energy capacity in Scotland has more than doubled since 2007, but due to its intermittent nature there is a need to store surplus energy from sources such as wind so it can be used when we need it most. Pumped storage hydro is the largest and cleanest form of energy storage that currently exists - and a key enabler in helping Scotland meet its green energy ambitions. As well as dramatically improving our energy security, this transformational proposal is a fantastic opportunity for the community to benefit from the energy transition while helping turbo-charge Scotland's decarbonisation efforts."
It is anticipated that the construction phase will create between 200-300 jobs and, once complete, Red John would be able to provide 2.4GWh of storage capacity for the Grid over a six hour period.
Ofgem say a GWh is enough to power around 1million homes for an hour. This would mean Red John could power 400,000 houses for up to one hour.
ILI, which says proposals for the Red John project come in response to increasing demand for energy storage, has also held preliminary discussions with the community council on community ownership, as well as establishing a community benefit scheme.
PSH Technology
Pumped storage is a way of storing energy by turning electrical energy into stored (or potential) energy and back again to electrical energy. The system uses electricity to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir. This pumping happens at times when there is more energy being produced on the grid network than is needed. This energy is stored until it is required, when the water is allowed to flow back through a hydro-turbine, generating electricity to meet sudden or predicted spikes in consumer demand.
This cycle of pumping and generating repeats on a daily basis as required. Pumped storage utilises excess generated electricity when consumer demand is low and generates electricity when demand requires. It can be used at very short notice to provide what the Directors consider to be a flexible and valuable balancing service to the relevant distribution network operator.
Sources and top image: ILI Group, Red John