Cruachan Power Station To Recieve Award

World’s first major pumped storage hydro scheme recognised

Looking down from the upper reservoir to Loch Awe

Looking down from the upper reservoir to Loch Awe
Photo by James Heaton

Today the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) will present an Engineering Heritage Award to Cruachan Power Station, the world’s first high-head reversible pumped-storage power station. Built between 1959 and 1965, Cruachan is one of only four pumped hydroelectric facilities currently operating in the UK.

Cruachan Power Station plays an important  role in helping to balance the nation’s electricity supply by enabling energy to be temporarily stored to meet peaks in demand. This is achieved by managing water resources between a reservoir high on the slopes of Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe, 396 metres below.

Using its reversible turbines, the station uses cheap electricity at times of low grid demand to pump water from Loch Awe to fill the upper reservoir. At times of peak demand the stored water can then be released through the plant’s turbines to generate up to 440MW of electricity for up to 20 hours. When the plant is on ‘spinning reserve’ the generators can be brought to full output within 30 seconds.

The plant can also operate like a conventional hydro-electric station using rainwater from its catchment area – around 10% of its annual generated output is produced in this way.

Cruachan visitor centre is open from February to December. See for more information.

2 Responses to “Cruachan Power Station To Recieve Award”

  • John Young:

    Just thought I would leave a short note to say it was my Great Uncle, George Stanley Young who surveyed the Cruachan hydro scheme on behalf of James Williamson whom he worked for. My Uncle is 96 and still lives here in Stonehouse. He was recently interviewed by Historic Scotland regards all the other early hydro schemes he worked on and the nuclear sites in Scotland. He also surevyed many other sites that never came to be and has probably seen more of Scotland than any other living man due to the nature of his employment with Williamsons.

    • admin:

      Thanks for this John.

      It is interesting that you say your uncle surveyed many other sites that never came to be. Were these potential pumped storage sites? There is a new one planned at Coire Glas above Loch Lochy – I wonder if this was one of them.

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