Loch Kemp Storage

FAQs

Your questions answered

Green hydrogen production.

What is pumped storage hydro?

Pumped storage hydro is a proven zero carbon technology providing easily accessible medium - long duration energy storage. Pumped storage hydro balances the electricity grid by storing excess energy and releasing it back when it is required on a daily basis. It is the oldest form of large-scale energy storage and works by using ‘paired’ water bodies to store energy as raised water. At times of peak demand, water in an upper reservoir is released to a lower reservoir and flows through a hydro turbine, generating electricity. When demand is low, excess energy on the grid is used to pump water back to the upper reservoir.

Why is this project needed?

Climate change is driving the need for an urgent reduction in carbon emissions. As a result, the UK Government has committed to a decarbonised electricity network by 2035 and a Net Zero economy by 2050.

Renewable energy generation is low cost and carbon free, but its availability is intermittent and constantly fluctuating with the weather. Matching renewables, in particular the ambitious plans for Scotland's offshore wind generation, to consumer demand is critical to securing the UK’s energy supply in a Net Zero future.

Loch Kemp Storage would be able to help balance the daily fluctuations from renewables by storing the excess energy as raised water. Loch Kemp Storage provides a long duration storage solution generating electricity for up to 15 hours during times of peak demand.

The Scottish Government recognises the importance of technologies like pumped storage hydro in the draft ‘Energy Security and Just Transition Plan’ where it states:

‘As we transition to a net zero energy system, renewables and other zero-carbon technologies, including pumped hydro storage, will need to provide all the services required to ensure a secure energy system’

The UK Government supports the development of projects such as Loch Kemp Storage and published a Consultation Paper on Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES) in January 2024.

In the recent consultation Government states: ‘LDES will be pivotal in delivering a smart and flexible energy system that can integrate high volumes of low carbon power, heat, and transport.’

The consultation goes on to outline the scale of the savings to consumers. Government research shows by deploying ‘up to 20 gigawatts (GW) of long duration electricity storage system savings of up to £24bn could be achieved.’

If the UK is to transition from a fossil fuel electricity system to renewable led system and meet its Net Zero targets LDES is essential.

Loch Kemp Storage would save 100,000s of tonnes of CO2 a year.

Why has Statera chosen this location for the project?

The UK electricity grid has a fundamental challenge; too much renewable energy is generated in Scotland for its demand and this surplus electricity needs to be transmitted south where there is greater demand, but far less wind. Building enough network to achieve this comes at a vast cost. However, the requirement for such huge amounts of network can be reduced by operating long duration energy storage schemes such as pumped storage hydro in Scotland.

The Highlands of Scotland are well suited to pumped storage hydro with naturally high ground and abundant water. There are many ‘paired’ water bodies in the Highlands but very few of these locations meet the additional requirements which are critical in making a scheme viable. These other factors include; grid network with capacity, elevation, volume of water particularly the size of the lower reservoir, rock type and access.

These factors mean there are few sites which can support this important Net Zero technology. Loch Kemp has all these advantages. Natural efficiency is gained from using the two existing bodies of water, in this case Loch Ness and Loch Kemp which are close together and offer a sufficient height difference to create the force for water to travel downhill to drive a turbine and the volume of water to generate electricity for up to 15 hours. The natural bowl surrounding Loch Kemp allows for the upper reservoir to be expanded.

The project would look to make use of its location and use the existing Caledonian Canal to bring in larger equipment rather than transporting it by road, reducing the number of traffic movements. While the proximity of the site to Foyers National Grid substation offers access to the electricity network.

How will the scheme benefit the local community?

Loch Kemp Storage will present a guaranteed pipeline of work to develop skills for people to take on opportunities and offer apprentice roles. This will include up to 25 permanent skilled jobs during operation.

Over the 4.5-5 year construction period circa 430 jobs are expected to be provided each year. The operational phase will also be supplemented by indirect job opportunities created by general maintenance of the infrastructure/equipment.

The scheme is expected to be in place for a minimum of 75 years. The scheme will also offer significant opportunities for the local and wider national supply chain to be directly and indirectly involved during the construction and operational phase. Loch Kemp Storage is expected to deliver £30m into the Highland Economy and £57m into the Scottish economy.

We have put forward enhanced compensation measures which would substantially improve the overall condition of Ness Woods Special Area of Conservation a woodland that is currently in “unfavourable” condition. These enhanced management measures would be carried out during the operational phase of the project for up to 75 years to bring it back into “favourable” condition.

The project intends to make a financial contribution to specific housing projects that can deliver affordable housing and in the first instance housing to rent for the construction period.

Finally we are of the opinion that scheme can provide additional benefits to the local area and education by allowing the public opportunities to visit the powerhouse area and giving them an insight to the engineering marvel that the scheme offers across all engineering disciplines whilst contributing to the Net Zero targets.

How has consultation shaped the development?

Community consultation has had a bearing on the scheme design. Following feedback from community consultations we have decided to open the powerhouse to the public to boost the Highlands’ tourist economy and raise awareness amongst visitors of the renewables and Net Zero challenge.

Visitors will be able to view the inner workings of the powerhouse and see first-hand how the project has been engineered and shaped by the natural landscape, while enjoying panoramic views of Loch Ness.

We hope this interactive experience will inspire visitors to be proud of Scotland's role in leading the UK to a cleaner greener future.

Feedback given by SEPA has led us to reposition the largest dam in Loch Kemp to minimise disturbance to peat. Peatlands are critical in helping prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change so the scheme has therefore been designed to minimise any disturbance.

As a result of detailed engagement with SSEN it has been agreed that the electrical cable route will be undergrounded from the powerhouse underneath the Special Area of Conservation (SAC), to avoid disturbance to the SAC and to reduce the visual sensitivity in the area.