North Yorkshire's Drax to build power station inside Scottish mountain that will support 900 jobs and power one million homes

Drax Group has confirmed it is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station in Scotland.

In a move which will more than double the electricity generating capacity at its Cruachan facility in Scotland the station will support almost 900 jobs in rural areas across Scotland during construction and will provide critical storage capacity needed to support a net zero power system.

The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW.

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The new power station would be built within a new, hollowed-out cavern which would be large enough to fit Big Ben on its side, to the east of Drax’s existing 440MW pumped storage hydro station.

Cruachan Dam holds back enough water to fil 4,440 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
Cruachan Dam holds back enough water to fil 4,440 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

More than a million tonnes of rock would be excavated to create the cavern and other parts of the power station. The existing upper reservoir, which can hold 2.4 billion gallons of water, has the capacity to serve both power stations.

The new station would have the capacity to generate enough power for around a million homes.

Will Gardiner, Drax Group CEO, said: “This is an exciting and important project which underlines Drax’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis and supporting the energy system as it continues to decarbonise. Our plans to expand Cruachan will unlock more renewable electricity to power homes and businesses across the country, and support hundreds of new jobs in rural Scotland.

“We need to stop renewable power from going to waste by storing it, and Drax is ready to move mountains to do just that.”

A labyrinth of underground tunnels and caverns would be created as part of the major infrastructure project.

Drax’s decision to pursue planning approval has been welcomed by the Hollow Mountain’s local MP and MSP.

Brendan O’Hara, Argyll & Bute MP, said: “I am delighted that Drax is progressing plans to expand the Ben Cruachan site. This will support 900 rural jobs and create a pumped storage facility that will be able to provide enough renewable energy to power a million homes while helping us reach our 2045 net zero target, it is great news for this area and for Scotland.”

The new power station will be housed in a vast underground cavern like the current Cruachan power station.