ILI Group to develop 1.5 GW pumped storage in Scotland

ILI Group said it started the initial planning phase for the 1.5 GW Balliemeanoch pumped storage hydro (PSH) project at Loch Awe, Dalmally in Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

The project would supply 1.5 GW of power for up to 30 hours, enough to power 4.5 million homes. The project will create a new upper reservoir in the hills above Loch Awe capable of holding 58 million cubic metres of water when full. It is estimated the project will offset over 200 million tonnes of CO2e over its lifetime.

This is ILI’s third PSH project. Its 450 MW Red John project at Loch Ness was awarded planning consent from Scottish Ministers in June 2021, and the company plans to submit a planning application for the 600 MW Corrievarkie project at Loch Ericht in August 2022.

The broader adoption of long-duration energy storage projects such as this is seen as “essential” to the further deployment of renewable energy projects and “critical to meeting UK climate commitments,” according to a press release.

With the announcement from the Scottish Crown of new seabed leases for offshore wind and the UK Government’s planned 40 GW to come on stream by 2030, energy storage projects like Balliemeanoch become increasingly important, said Mark Wilson, chief executive officer of ILI Group in the statement. He said that long-duration energy storage–and storage greater than four hours in particular–is crucial to the UK’s net zero ambitions. Without projects such as Balliemeanoch, the renewable generation capacity in the country would soon hit a “‘Green Glass Ceiling’ whereby adding more ‘variable’ renewable generation actually threatens grid stability and security of supply in our grid network.”

ILI Group recently committed to the San Jose Declaration that was agreed by the World Hydro Congress in 2021 and presented at COP26. Wilson said the company is committed to ensuring that all its hydro projects have sustainability and environmental and social governance at their core.

Wilson said the company is awaiting the outcome of the UK Government’s Call for Evidence on long-duration storage, as having the necessary market mechanism in place will enable the current PSH pipeline of over 5 GW to be built and keep the country on target for achieving net zero. He said he believes a cap-and-floor mechanism will get all these nationally significant infrastructure projects moving.

Intelligent Land Investments Group is a development company focused on energy storage in Great Britain, and especially Scotland. ILI has been bringing a portfolio of pumped storage assets of over 2 GW and 1 GW of utility scale battery storage to development ready status.