Scotland’s biggest battery today (Weds, 21st March) helped mark the launch of the new 2018 Nissan LEAF, amid the stunning backdrop of the Southern Highlands.
Cruachan, a hidden power station, lies a kilometre below the ground with enormous turbines converting water from the nearby loch into electricity. Essentially a giant battery, it also stores water in a second man-made loch halfway up Ben Cruachan to be released when called upon by the National Grid – and reverses the process by pumping water back up when needed to expel excess energy too.
Today saw it take on a different role as the pumped storage hydroelectric energy was used to showcase the power of the second generation Nissan LEAF, the world's best-selling electric vehicle.
With one new Nissan LEAF sold every 12 minutes in Europe, and more than 20,000 orders placed to date, electric vehicles are growing in popularity like never before.
The output of Cruachan’s generation in car terms equates to 590,000 horsepower with an equivalent storage of 11,000 Nissan LEAF vehicles.
Keith Anderson, ScottishPower CEO, explained: “It’s been great to welcome the launch of the new Nissan LEAF to Cruachan today. With the popularity of electric vehicles on the rise, it’s important we continue to support the demands on the National Grid and also consider where the energy comes from and how it is generated. If the aim is to reduce carbon emissions, it makes sense to generate electricity using the cleanest methods we can.
“Although Cruachan was built over 50 years ago, we’ve invested heavily in it and it’s fantastically cutting edge. The proven technology works like a very large battery, storing water in a reservoir up the mountain and releasing it to produce huge amounts of electricity in as little as 30 seconds.
“At full capacity, Cruachan can generate 440MW – that’s enough electricity to power a city the size of Edinburgh. Looking to the future, demand for electricity can only grow and that’s why as a utility company, we need to have generation flexibility and to be able to send power to the Grid quickly when needed. Cruachan can do that very successfully, which is why we’re now looking at its expansion.”
Scotland’s Energy Minister, Paul Wheelhouse added: “This is a fantastic example which demonstrates the very important role that power stations like Cruachan can play in not only sustainably generating electricity, but also providing grid-scale storage of electricity generated from renewable electricity sources, enabling it to be drawn down on demand. Today’s event reflects well the bold vision set out in Our Programme for Government for mass ownership of ultra-low emission vehicles, with a target to phase out the need for new petrol and diesel cars and vans in Scotland by 2032.
“The Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy highlights the importance for our energy system of pumped hydroelectricity storage in Scotland, and we believe that investment in expanded capacity in Scotland could greatly enhance the flexibility and resilience of our electricity network and power supplies for customers across Scotland and the wider GB network. This is something we continue to actively lobby UK Ministers to support.”