The pumped hydro facility will be located at Loch Awe, which is also home to Kilchurn Castle. Image: Simaron/Flickr.

Scottish energy storage developer ILI Group has revealed today (11 July) that it has lodged a Section 36 planning application with the Scottish government for a 1.5GW pumped hydro energy storage (PHES) project.

Dubbed Balliemeanoch, the project aims to provide a flexible and renewable energy resource and bolster the grid’s stability, particularly as Britain increases the amount of variable energy entering the system. It will be located at Argyll and Bute and will be able to supply 45GWh of power, making it one of the largest PHES projects in Europe.

With a planned connection date of 2031, Balliemeanoch PSH is well-positioned to contribute to the UK’s long-term energy strategy.

Plans for the project first appeared in February 2022, with Solar Power Portal having previously reported that it could provide 1.5GW of power for up to 30 hours.

The Balliemeanoch project will create a new ‘head pond’ in the hills above Loch Awe. When full, it will hold 58 million cubic meters of water.

ILI Group has engaged AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm, as technical consultants for the Balliemeanoch PHES project. AECOM’s expertise in large-scale infrastructure projects has been “instrumental in developing the detailed plans for this ambitious scheme”, ILI said.

Mark Wilson, CEO of ILI Group, said: “The submission of the planning application for Balliemeanoch marks another pivotal step in our commitment to enhancing the UK’s renewable energy capabilities.

“This comes on the heels of our recent sale to Statkraft for the Loch na Cathrach project (formerly known as Red John), further validating the critical role of pumped storage hydro in our energy future. Long-duration energy storage projects like Balliemeanoch and Loch na Cathrach are essential for maintaining grid stability as we increase our reliance on renewable energy sources.”

Scotland sees rise in PHES projects

ILI Group’s project is not the only recent development in the PHES space in recent weeks. On Tuesday (9 July), Solar Power Portal reported that Drax had appointed global technology and engineering firm Voith Hydro to move its plans forward for its proposed 600MW underground project called Hollow Mountain.

The project will be built inside Argyll’s highest mountain Ben Cruachan, alongside the company’s 440MW PHES station Cruachan. The two will share the existing upper reservoir as it has enough capacity for both at 2.4 billion gallons of water.