Norwegian power giants Statkraft, Europe’s largest renewable power generator, have agreed to buy the Red John Pumped Storage hydro project from Intelligent Land Investments Group (ILI).
Located on a site 14km south-west of Inverness, the 450MW-rated Red John scheme will capture excess renewable energy, feeding it to grids as needed, and thus strengthening security of supply as Britain’s power network shifts from fossil fuels. No price was disclosed for the buy.
Vendors ILI first conceived the water battery in 2015 and gained planning consent from Scotland’s government in June 2021. Based in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, ILI claim a ‘robust’ 4.7GW portfolio of storage projects, both in pumped hydro and in electrochemical technologies.
Confirming its purchase Statkraft declared it demonstrated the enterprise’s commitment to helping Scotland meet its renewable energy targets and strengthening UK energy security.
A final investment decision is awaited. Stratkraft said the project will support ‘hundreds’ of jobs during construction and provide permanent local jobs once operational.
Founded more than 125 years ago, Statkraft is the largest producer of electricity from hydropower in Europe. It operates storage plants in both Norway and Germany, alongside over 350 other hydropower plants, including Rheidol, near Aberystwyth, in Wales.
From its UK head office in Glasgow, Statkraft envisages at least £2bn of potential future capital investment in Scotland. Its UK assets include wind farms and the Keith Greener Grid Park in Moray. Besides hydropower and battery storage, its technologies of interest include grid stability and green hydrogen. Other projects in planning or under construction together represent.
Statkraft’s UK managing director Kevin O’Donovan said: “We are fully committed to supporting the UK in strengthening its energy security and helping to secure the economic benefits of the net zero transition. The acquisition of this significant pumped hydro storage scheme will play a key role in that.
But O’Donovan went on: “There needs to be an appropriate support mechanism in place, so we’re now looking to the UK government to provide the certainty that will allow us to proceed with confidence.”
Mark Wilson, CEO of ILI, also urged Westminster to provide policies supporting long duration storage.
“There is over 5GW of pumped storage hydro projects in the UK pipeline which will inject billions into the economy and create over 15,000 new jobs. We encourage the UK government to provide the support mechanisms now,” said Wilson.
ILI cites a 2021 study by independent researchers from Imperial College London. It found that just 4.5GW of new long duration pumped hydro storage with 90GWh of storage could save up to £690m per year in energy system costs by 2050, as the UK transitions to a net-zero carbon emission system.