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‘Hollow Mountain’ plant moves to key design stage

Drax has appointed Voith Hydro to advance the UK's first pumped storage hydro scheme in four decades

Drax has appointed the global technology and engineering firm Voith Hydro to move forward with its plan to construct the UK’s first pumped storage hydro scheme in four decades.

The proposed 600MW underground facility will be located adjacent to Drax’s existing Cruachan plant near Oban, Scotland.

The reservoir stores ten million cubic metres of water and covers a 23 square kilometre area for drainage.

Currently, exploratory groundworks and seismic surveys are being conducted to gather critical geological data for the new plant’s underground location.

In the development phase, Voith Hydro will undertake a Front-End Engineering and Design (FEED) study focusing on the mechanical and electrical aspects.

This study will generate detailed reports, data and models that will define the project scope, design, cost estimate and schedule.

This will enable informed decision-making and mitigate uncertainties before advancing to the detailed engineering, procurement and construction stages.

Drax’s proposals received development consent from the Scottish Government last year.

However, for the project to continue progressing, updated policy and market support from the UK Government are essential.

No new pumped storage hydro plants have been built in the UK since 1984, primarily due to the lack of an appropriate framework.

Earlier this year, the UK Government initiated a consultation to introduce a new framework, potentially unlocking substantial private investment in this technology.

Steve Marshall, Drax’s Development Manager, said: “A new generation of pumped storage hydro plants will strengthen the UK’s energy security by enabling more homegrown renewable electricity to come online to power homes and businesses across the country.”

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