A SCOTTISH company behind plans for pumped storage hydro (PSH) schemes has backed declarations of a climate emergency by the Scottish, Welsh and UK governments.

Nicola Sturgeon said last week that world was facing such a crisis and vowed that Scotland would “lead by example” by cutting carbon emissions. She was followed by the Welsh Assembly and then the UK Government.

Now Hamilton-based ILI has warned that without deploying storage technology – including PSH – the full potential of renewable energy cannot be realised because of the intermittent nature of wind generation. ILI Group has more than 2GW of PSH schemes in the pipeline with their first 450MW development – Red John at Loch Ness – currently in planning, with a further two projects to be submitted for approval later this year.

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The company’s CEO, Mark Wilson, said: “Declaring a climate emergency is great start to focus minds on the massive issue of climate change.

“However without a coherent energy policy the true potential of renewable energy will be squandered and these declarations make the case for pumped storage hydro even more urgent and persuasive.”

Wilson said that for renewable energy to be deployed at the scale required to reach the National Grid zero-carbon network target by 2025, it had been estimated we would need at least 13GW of storage.

He added: “We currently have 2.8GW. The majority of the 10GW shortfall will have to come from pumped storage hydro as it is the only proven technology currently available at the scale required.

“We are pushing the UK Government and policy makers to help create the necessary market and commercial environment to support major infrastructure investments such as PSH.

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"The current pipeline of UK PSH will offset approximately four million tonnes of CO2 every year, the equivalent of taking 879,000 cars off the road. The UK started the industrial revolution – it’s our responsibility to be at the forefront helping to solve the climate crisis we are now in.”

Pumped storage hydro allows the National Grid to store energy that cannot be absorbed naturally by consumers during times of peak wind or solar generation.

It does this by using this energy to pump water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir.

Here the water can be held until times of higher demand where it is released to the lower reservoir through turbines generating electricity like a conventional hydro plant.

This process can be repeated as often as required.

Brian Wilson, a former UK energy minister, said: “One way or another, there has to be backup to the intermittency of renewable generation and this creates a huge opportunity for UK industry.

“In Scotland, pumped storage hydro – which provides 95% of storage around the world – is the obvious answer instead of relying on imports via interconnectors.

“Hydro power has served Scotland exceptionally well in the past and can do so for many years to come.

“This is an opportunity to give an established technology a new lease of life with huge potential benefits for the Scottish economy while at the same time helping to solve the inescapable challenges posed by reliance on renewable generation.”