top of page

Drax Unveils £80 Million Investment for Pumped Hydro Power Station Overhaul

Drax has unveiled ambitious plans to invest up to £80 million into a substantial overhaul of its 'Hollow Mountain' Cruachan pumped storage hydro power station nestled in the scenic landscapes of Scotland. This strategic initiative aims to bolster the station's capacity by nearly 10 percent, marking a significant leap forward in sustainable energy infrastructure.

In a decisive move, the energy behemoth has enlisted the expertise of global hydropower technology leader ANDRITZ to spearhead the comprehensive refurbishment endeavor. Tasked as the primary contractor, ANDRITZ will orchestrate the augmentation project, primed to elevate the generating capacity of two of the plant's four units by a collective 40MWs. This enhancement will catapult the facility's overall generating prowess to 480MWs.

This initiative's genesis lies in the recognition of the aging infrastructure that underpins the station's operations. Originally commissioned in 1965, the units harbor components, including their turbines, that have weathered over half a century of service. Drax's investment aims not only to modernize but also to future-proof this vital piece of energy infrastructure.

Situated majestically on the tranquil shores of Loch Awe in Argyll, this hydro facility is one of a select quartet of pumped storage hydro installations in the UK. Its strategic importance is increasingly underscored as the nation's renewable energy portfolio burgeons. As more renewable energy projects grace the grid, the role of such storage facilities in maintaining grid stability becomes ever more pronounced.

Speaking in Ravensburg, Germany, at the signing of the contract with ANDRITZ, Drax's Interim chief operating officer, Penny Small, said: "Pumped storage hydro is vital to the UK's energy security; it's a technology that works in partnership with renewables.

"These plants play a critical role in stabilising the electricity system, helping to balance supply and demand by storing excess power. When wind turbines generate more power than we need, Cruachan steps in to store the renewable electricity so it doesn't go to waste. By investing in Cruachan today, Drax is ensuring the power station can play an even bigger role in the energy system of tomorrow."

Dominik Fust, managing director at ANDRITZ HYDRO Germany, echoed her comments and said the project aligned with the company's mission "to contribute to the global transition toward sustainable energy generation."

The capital infusion stems from Drax's successful procurement of a lucrative 15-year contract valued at approximately £221 million via the government's Capacity Market initiative. This strategic move aligns with the government's overarching objective to fortify grid reliability by ensuring an adequate supply of capacity.

In addition to fortifying its existing infrastructure, Drax is actively pursuing avenues to bolster its energy storage capabilities. A cornerstone of this endeavor is the proposed establishment of a cutting-edge 600MW pumped storage power station, slated to complement the ongoing enhancements at the Cruachan facility.

While the project received the green light in the preceding summer with the acquisition of planning permissions, its progression hinges on a pivotal final investment decision. Drax underscores that the project's advancement remains contingent upon governmental authorities' formulation and confirmation of an appropriate regulatory framework.

Last summer, Drax CEO Will Gardiner said: "With the right support from the UK government, Drax will invest c.£500m to more than double Cruachan's generating capacity and support almost 1,000 jobs across the supply chain during construction."


bottom of page