• World Climate Foundation

Lochaber hydro plant and Marble Power reduce CO2 with new balancing mechanism



Lochaber hydro-electric plant has developed a new model to reduce CO2 in its operations, demonstrating its ongoing commitment to a sustainable future. Working closely with business energy supplier Marble Power, the Lochaber team successfully entered the hydro plant in the UK’s balancing mechanism, resulting in a first-year cost saving of around £2m and a reduction in the average CO2 content of grid power absorbed by the plant.

Before this innovation, the Lochaber site had been powered by hydropower through the winter, then by a combination of grid and hydropower through the summer months. Since adopting the new operating mode, the site is able to run through the summer with less reliance on grid power, making it more resilient to changes in grid pricing and reducing the average CO2 content in the power used by the plant.

The new operating model works by anticipating periods when the Scottish grid over-produces wind power and bids to absorb power, reducing National Grid’s need to pay wind owners to curtail generation. In this way, the site is paid to absorb power and retains water in Loch Treig. That water can then be released later, allowing the site to either avoid importing more expensive power or earning extra income by exporting to the grid. The site's unique combination of water storage, generation and steady load have been turned into what is, in terms of ‘discharge duration’, the largest battery operating on the UK system.

Developing innovative initiatives such as Lochaber’s balancing mechanism and investing in new clean technologies are key to delivering GFG Alliance’s ambition to become carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30).