ScottishPower to consider pumped storage hydroelectric dam expansion

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ScottishPower is set to consider an expansion to its pumped storage plant that would enable it to boost its hydroelectricity supply in Scotland.

The big six energy supplier's engineers are reportedly set to conduct a study into the feasibility of such a project.

Parent company of ScottishPower, Iberdrola's chairman and chief executive revealed that talks with First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, had led it to consider the possibility of an expansion to the Cruachan Dam, which is situated up in the Highlands, at Balmacaan.

Ignacio Galan said: "It was a consequence of the last meeting with the First Minister - his request - but when I asked my engineers... they don't say to me 'no'." He went on to add that the project was at an early stage, but added there was some chance of it going ahead if the engineers deemed it feasible.

Cruachan Dam currently has a  generation capacity of 440MW (megawatts), and would be boosted to 600MW if plans were to go ahead. It was constructed in the early 1960s and has been owned by ScottishPower since the privatisation of the electricity industry in 1990.

Pumped storage plants are becoming a topic of growing interest in the energy industry. They utilise two separate sections of water - each at different heights. When demand for electricity is low, the water from the lower section is pumped into the higher of the two sections. When the demand is high, this water is then released to generate electricity.

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