Scottish Power is considering plans to more than double output at the 440MW Cruachan pumped storage project in Lochaber, Scotland.

The company has announced plans to carry out a two-year feasibility study on an expansion project that could see the project produce 1040MW.

Commissioned in 1966 and officially opened by HM The Queen, Cruachan is one of only four pumped storage power stations in the UK and was the world’s first high-level reversible hydroelectric scheme.

The power station is situated near the town of Oban and concealed within the hollowed-out rock of a mountain; Ben Cruachan. The main cavern inside houses four turbines.

Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, welcomed the news of the possible expansion, suggesting it could be the start of a ‘renaissance’ for the hydro sector in the country.

"Combined with other planned developments around Scotland, this major announcement today heralds a renaissance in hydro and pump storage energy, and opens another chapter in our outstanding history of harnessing renewables," Salmond said. "Increasing pump storage capacity will strengthen Scotland’s balanced energy mix and in doing so it can also enhance security of supply right across GB.

"With electricity regulator Ofgem forecasting a narrowing gap between English electricity generation capacity and peak demand, Scotland’s position as a net exporter to the rest of the UK is increasingly important to ensure security of supply across the network. It is clean, green, renewable Scottish electricity that will keep the lights on."

The First Minister welcomed the announcement while on a site visit to the Cortes La Muela scheme, Europe’s largest pump storage facility. Completed in 2013, Cortes La Muela is owned by Iberdrola, the parent company of Scottish Power.

Photo: Cruachan power station in Scotland