A multi-million pound green energy power venture – called Albannach Island – would give a much-needed jobs boost to Caithness.
Highview Power is behind the plans to build a liquid air energy storage plant in a disused part of a quarry in Spittal, adjoining the most northerly stretch of the A9.
The London-based conglomerate is seeking planning consent for the development which it says would create 300 construction jobs and between seven and 10 permanent jobs.
The scheme is being earmarked to occupy up to five acres of the north end of A&D Sutherland Ltd’s flagstone quarry at Spittal Mains.
The complex would comprise a handful of storage tanks of up to 45 metres high together with a generator, air liquifier, charger, control room and ancillary plant.
The Albannach Power Island project is designed to help optimise the use of renewable power during periods of low electricity demand.
Highview, which specialises in green energy storage solutions, claims the proposed plant at Spittal could help displace several hundred thousand metric tons of CO₂ emissions per year.
Its emission-free design works by removing CO₂ and particulates from ambient air and turning it into liquid at -196 Centigrade.
It is then stored in low pressure vessels and, when needed, is heated and expanded through a turbine to generate 50 megawatts of electricity for up to six hours – enough to power 120,000 homes.
A spokesman said: “The system will charge from the grid at times of high levels of wind generation and discharge at times of high energy demand or low wind output.”
The plant would connect to the grid by an underground cable at the nearby Spittal sub-station.
The spokesman said the plant would contribute to the drive to make Scotland net emission-free by 2045.
He added: “This is a globally pioneering project, which will make this rural part of Scotland synonymous with the delivery of much-needed, long-duration energy storage.
“It will be at the forefront of the clean energy revolution and will be integral in helping Scotland meet its decarbonisation goals.”
The company intends providing an information centre in an existing building at the quarry.
Highview received a £10 million UK Government grant in 2020 to develop a similar plant at Trafford Enenergy Park at Carrington, near Manchester.
People living in the Watten and Halkirk community council areas are being invited to learn more about the project at an online presentation and consultation on May 20 between 5 and 7pm.