ENERGY giant Drax has underlined its willingness to invest heavily in developing the portfolio it acquired in Scotland through a £700 million deal.

The head of the company’s generating arm, Andy Koss, said Drax was very pleased with the performance of the assets concerned. These include a giant reservoir-based pumped storage system in Argyll, the Lanark and Galloway hydro-electric facilities on rivers in South West Scotland, and a biomass fuel plant near Glasgow.

He said the company sees enough potential in the Cruachan pumped storage facility for it to be prepared to make the massive investment required to achieve a big increase in capacity at the plant, with the right official support.

Read more: Inside Ben Cruachan 60 years after the mountain was hollowed

The plans under consideration include one which would involve developing a new reservoir and turbine hall. The cost would probably run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Mr Koss noted Drax directors believe pumped storage could play a key role in supporting the development of wind power in Scotland while helping maintain the security of power supplies.

Cruachan can generate enough energy to power 90,000 homes, based on moving water between a reservoir in the hills and Loch Awe, which lies about 450 yards below.

Excess wind power could be used to pump water from Loch Awe up to the reservoir.

Read more: ScottishPower to use 100% wind power after selling off last coal and gas stations

Power generated at Cruachan could be used to make up for variations in the amount of energy produced by windfarms.

Mr Koss noted that assets such as pumped storage facilities and run of river hydro schemes can operate for decades.

Drax generated £36m underlying profit in the six months to June from the operations acquired from ScottishPower. They include four gas-fired power stations in England.

It said the integration process is going well. Some 250 Scottish Power staff members have transferred to Drax.

ScottishPower is focusing its investment on renewable energy generating facilities and transmission networks.

Drax believes gas fired-plants can play an important role in ensuring enough energy is available in the UK irrespective of weather conditions.

The group has invested heavily in adapting the giant coal-fired plant in Yorkshire from which it takes its name to run on wood pellets. The use of coal is set to be phased out by 2025.

It achieved £138m underlying earnings in the first half, up 35%, from £102m last time.