‘Hollow Mountain’ power station seismic surveys underway

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Groundworks at the site of what would be the UK’s first pumped storage scheme to be developed in 40 years have commenced on the slopes of Ben Cruachan, near Oban in Scotland.

Drax is moving forward with plans to construct a new 600MW underground plant next to its existing Cruachan facility.

Seismic surveys are currently underway to gather essential geological data about the rock formation where the new plant will be situated.

The process involves drilling holes into the rock and strategically placing small explosive charges, which are then detonated to generate a powerful sound wave within the rock mass.

Pumped storage hydro plants function as large scale water batteries, utilising reversible turbines to transfer water from a lower reservoir to an upper reservoir, where excess power from sources like wind farms and other low carbon technologies can be stored when supply exceeds demand.

These same turbines are later reversed to bring the stored water back through the plant to generate power when needed.

Steve Marshall, Drax Development Manager, said: “The expansion of Cruachan will be one of the most significant engineering projects in Scotland for many decades.

“The start of these seismic surveys of the mountain is a real milestone moment for the project and everyone at Drax is excited to see the development take another step forward, These surveys will further complement borehole drilling works undertaken in 2022 and 2023 at the site.

“Expanding Cruachan will strengthen the UK’s energy security by enabling more homegrown renewable electricity to come online to power homes and businesses across the country.

“This major infrastructurere project will support hundreds of jobs and provide a real boost to the Scottish economy.”

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