Scottish Ministers have granted approval for the construction and operation of a 400MW pumped storage hydro (PSH) electricity generation station at the former Glenmuckloch open cast coal mine in south-west Scotland.

PSH electricity stations have the capacity to store large quantities of energy, providing important flexibility in electricity supply when there is a greater proportion of electricity from renewable energy technologies.

It is estimated that the project in Dumfries & Galloway will employ around 327 workers in its construction phase and create up to 15 permanent jobs as part of an energy park in upper Nithsdale which already includes two community-owned wind turbines. Glenmuckloch Renewable Energy Ltd, a subsidiary of Buccleuch, the company representing the business interests of local landowners the Buccleuch family, also recently received planning permission from Dumfries and Galloway Council to build eight 3.2MW turbines.

The proposed energy park scheme at Glenmuckloch, a joint venture between Buccleuch and 2020 Renewables, has the potential to become a catalyst for industrial regeneration in the region; however any proposal will require major financial investment from other partners to proceed. Meetings have taken place with the UK Government – which sets energy policy – to discuss the need for a stable revenue mechanism that will encourage investment.

Scotland already has several major pumped storage schemes, including those at Foyers and Cruachan, but no new projects have been built in over 30 years.

Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Keith Brown said: “Renewable energy sources generated more than 56% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland in 2015, helping support our world-leading ambitions to become a low-carbon economy. The Scottish Government believes there is a huge opportunity around pumped storage hydro. This tried and tested technology can support peak demand and effectively store greater levels of electricity at times when renewable energy output is high but demand is low.”