UK-based clean energy developer Intelligent Land Investments Group (ILI) has secured the Scottish Government approval for the 450MW Red John project pumped storage hydro project.

Planned to be located on the shores of Loch Ness, the pumped storage hydro project will be built with a total investment of £550m.

ILI Group chief executive Mark Wilson said: “There is currently a pipeline of over 5GW of pumped storage in the UK, but we need to work closely with the UK Government to implement the market mechanisms that are needed to drive investment into these projects to ensure we hit our net zero targets.”

The Red John project is estimated to offset 45 million tonnes of CO2 over its lifetime, said the developer ILI.

The pumped storage hydro project is expected to create up to 700 direct and indirect jobs, and enable hundreds of millions of pounds investment in the local economy.

It involves pumping of water from the loch to a storage pond located on top of a hill, when there is excess energy on the grid. When there is high demand, the water flows back down through a hydro generator to produce electricity.

Scotland Net Zero, Energy and Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Matheson said: “Scotland is a leader in this field, with excellent hydro-electric power heritage built over the last century and this new scheme at Loch Ness will only add to that.

“As we add more renewable electricity generation across Scotland, investing in pumped hydro storage will be key to balancing our electricity demand with supply and keeping the system secure, as well as creating high quality, green jobs and enabling a green recovery from the pandemic.

“That is why we continue to call on the UK Government to take the urgent action required in reserved areas to provide investors with improved revenue certainty and unlock potentially significant investment in new pumped storage capacity in Scotland.”