A new study by independent researchers from Imperial College London has found that just 4.5 GW of new long duration pumped hydro storage, with 90 GWh of storage, could save up to £690 million per year in energy system costs by 2050, as the UK transitions to a net-zero carbon emission system.
Commissioned by SSE Renewables via Imperial Consultants, the report focused on the benefits of new long-duration pumped hydro storage in Scotland, as the most-established long-duration energy storage technology. The main benefit of long-duration storage compared to short-duration batteries is being able to continuously charge up the storage with excess renewables and discharge power to the grid for several hours or days when wind and solar output is low.
In its recent Energy White Paper, the UK Government set out that long-duration storage technologies, like pumped hydro, would play an essential role in decarbonizing the UK’s electricity supply by integrating renewable energy and maintaining security of supply.
In October, SSE Renewables received a revised consent from the Scottish Government for what would be the UK’s largest pumped hydro energy storage scheme – 1.5-GW Coire Glas – located near Loch Lochy in the Scottish Highlands. The Coire Glas scheme, which would offer storage of 30 GWh, would more than double the current pumped hydro storage capacity in Great Britain, providing an invaluable low carbon resource to help cost effectively manage the fluctuations of the electricity system.
The study found that 75% of the savings to the energy system from projects like Coire Glas would be from the avoided capital expenditure in higher cost electricity generation technologies that would otherwise be needed to meet the UK’s target of carbon neutrality by 2050 while meeting security of supply.
Importantly, the report highlighted that despite all of the benefits new pumped hydro storage projects would bring, the current policy and market