The scheme of up to 400 MW would make a major contribution to energy provision and breathe life into the former opencast site, which has ceased commercial coaling and is now undergoing restoration works. It would also create over 250 jobs during a five-year construction programme and more than 15 long term local jobs when complete.
The proposed scheme, a joint venture between Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables, has the potential to become a catalyst for industrial regeneration in the region; however any proposal will require major financial investment from other partners to proceed. Meetings have taken place with the UK Government – which sets energy policy – to discuss the need for a stable revenue mechanism that will encourage investment.
Pumped storage hydro stores electricity in times of low demand and releases it on to the National Grid in peak demand periods, providing energy when required and also balancing local constraints on the electricity grid.
“Pumped storage brings considerable benefits to the country’s energy system” said Alan Baker, managing director of 2020 Renewables. “Major pumped storage schemes already exist in Scotland – for example at Foyers and Cruachan – but no new projects have been built in over 30 years. The challenge is in finding the package of support measures which will unlock private investment in the project. We have been working with the UK and Scottish governments and others to find a way to make this work. A successful project will be a major driver of economic activity and growth across the region.”
John Glen, chief executive officer of Buccleuch, added that for five years Buccleuch has been working closely with the local community and Hargreaves Surface Mining to restore and transform the site. The vision is to create an energy park that will support local jobs and deliver major new investment in Dumfries and Galloway. Renewable energy offers great opportunities for the area and the combination of pumped storage and on-site wind generation are a very natural fit. Viewed together as an integrated system, they would act as a catalyst for economic growth and could form a central plank of a collaborative regional industrial strategy that would generate new jobs and economic growth.
The Glenmuckloch site already hosts two community-owned wind turbines, and Buccleuch subsidiary, Glenmuckloch Renewable Energy Limited, recently received planning permission from Dumfries and Galloway Council to build eight 3.2 MW turbines.
Local MP for Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale Scotland David Mundell, welcomed the announcement adding that the project will help to sustain jobs in the region and bring significant long-term energy benefits to Upper Nithsdale.
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