Login | Register

£160m Snowdonia pump storage project approved

Words: Roger Milne
Greg Clark

Work could start next year on a £160 million pumped storage power project earmarked for a site in the Snowdonia National Park following the approval of a development consent order (DCO).

The UK Government’s business and energy secretary Greg Clark approved the DCO for the scheme, proposed by developer Snowdonia Pumped Hydro Ltd (SPH), on 8 March after an examination by the Planning Inspectorate.

The 99-megawatt Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project is set to be developed at the abandoned Glyn Rhonwy and Chwarel Fawr slate quarries near Llanberis in North Wales.

It is expected to have an operational life of around 125 years and support up to 30 full-time local jobs, as well as hundreds during construction.

It will comprise two 1,300,000 cubic metre reservoirs linked by a 1.6 kilometre underground pipeline via a turbine hall, about 70 metres below ground level. The system uses electricity to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir. When required, the water is then released through a hydro-turbine to generate electricity to meet sudden spikes in consumer electricity demand.

The project is the first of a series of schemes that SPH parent company Quarry Battery Company intends to develop throughout the UK.

Electricity storage facilities are recognised in National Policy Statement EN-1 as an important part of the toolkit for balancing the intermittency of renewable energy generation.

Ben Lewis, the GVA director in Cardiff who advised the company on the planning, said: “The need for grid-scale storage is now firmly on the UK Government’s agenda.

“As the UK moves towards an increased proportion of its electricity being generated from renewable sources, there is an increasing requirement for grid-scale batteries to balance supply and demand across the grid. Pumped storage is one of the most efficient ways to provide these batteries.”

Local conservation charity the Snowdonia Society was critical of the scheme, which was originally rated at 50 megawatts.

More information about the project and its supporting documents can be found on the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects website.

Image credit | Department for Communities and Local Government