Loch, Scottish Highlands

Wanted: lochs and lakes for sustainable energy storage

Following recent significant advances in green energy, which is generating a growing though often intermittent energy supply to the national grid, the demand for energy storage continues to rise. And while battery storage, a relative new kid on the block, is grabbing headlines, there has also been a marked uplift in demand for pumped storage hydroelectricity (PSH), a system which depends on the availability of large masses of water.

The scale of these schemes can often be vast, but they do have the capability of generating hundreds of megawatts or even gigawatts of power. PSH has been a reliable and effective storage method for the past 50 years and it makes up 97 per cent of the world’s energy storage capabilities, but there is a continued need for more suitable sites. 

There are some quite specific requirements for a site to succeed, including a significant height difference between a lower, existing, body of water and a higher reservoir to store the water. The higher reservoir could be man-made or an existing body of water.

Of course, the ability to obtain planning permission, and to connect to the national grid are other key considerations for any site, as is the potential environmental impact. The scale and geographical requirements of these schemes mean opportunities tend to be located in Scotland and Wales.

While the rental benefits are very attractive to landowners, the associated land is tied up for long periods, potentially up to 100 years, and such a time commitment must be carefully considered before entering into an agreement with a prospective developer.

Further information

Contact Savills Energy & Infrastructure

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