SOARING gas prices are a massive problem that has been “quietly warned about for years” and which has suddenly hit the front pages, according to the head of a Scottish firm at the forefront of green energy storage.

Mark Wilson (below) is CEO of Intelligent Land Investments (ILI) Group, which specialises in pumped storage hydro (PSH), which sees water pumped from a lower reservoir to a higher one at times when there is more energy being produced on the grid than is needed.

This energy is stored until required and he said the technology already provides 95% of the world’s energy storage.

ILI has projects under way at Red John on Loch Ness, Corrievarkie at Loch Ericht and Balliemeanoch at Loch Awe, which is said will help off-set hundreds of millions of tonnes of CO2 over their lifetimes.

The National: Mark Wilson, CEO of ILI Group

Wilson said the problem was basic: “Our transition to renewable energy requires back-up for the times when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine.

“Without the capacity to store power, the default position has been to rely on imported gas. The vulnerability of that strategy is now being cruelly exposed with gas shortages and soaring prices which are about to hit consumers.

“It is a toxic mix, politically, environmentally, and economically.”

He said there were two other PSH projects in Scotland, aside from those planned by his own company, and he warned that without finding a way to store energy to handle the peaks and troughs of intermittent renewables, it will be impossible to reduce dependence on gas and coal-fired plants and meet our climate obligations.

This type of “long-duration” storage must now be seen as crucial to the further deployment of renewable energy projects.

Wilson added: “It is completely irrational, as recent weeks have confirmed, to keep funding renewable capacity without also providing the necessary non-fossil fuel back-up … In the year of COP26, the UK Government needs to put in place the market mechanisms which will bring these projects to fruition and without which they cannot happen.

“The main alternative to long duration storage is increased reliance on imported gas and, as the last few weeks have confirmed, that is an exceptionally bad idea.”