SSE has confirmed today that it will proceed with construction of its 7.5MW Glasa hydro-electric scheme, near Ardross, Ross-shire.
The £30m project, previously named Kildermorie, will be the largest hydro scheme to be built in the UK in over five years and the second largest conventional hydro scheme to be built in over half a century. With a generating capacity of 7.5MW, Glasa will produce enough renewable electricity to power around 10,000 homes. Today’s announcement comes in the 70th anniversary year of large-scale hydro development in Scotland, kick-started by the introduction of the Hydro-Electric Development Act (Scotland) in 1943 and the subsequent development of over 50 dams and power stations, all of which still provide a reliable source of renewable electricity to this day. Construction will start in late summer this year and is expected to be complete by the autumn of 2015. The number of people working on the project will vary, but it is expected that the total number of people employed by SSE and contractors’ will reach over 100 at the peak of construction activities. As part of its commitment to a local supply chain, SSE will work with its key civil and mechanical contractors to ensure opportunities for Highland and Scottish businesses are maximised. Available contracts will be posted on SSE’s Open4Business online portal, where local businesses can sign up and apply for opportunities across SSE’s range of projects in the Highlands and Islands region. SSE had previously stated that development of new conventional hydro schemes such as Glasa would not be possible at the UK ROC (Renewable Obligation Certificate) level of 0.7 ROCs per MW introduced following a July 2012 banding review. However, today’s announcement follows the decision by the Scottish Government in September 2012 to retain the one ROC per MW support level for new conventional hydro in Scotland. Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, who is delivering the inaugural Tom Johnston lecture at the Scottish Renewables Hydro Anniversary Dinner this evening, welcomed the announcement by SSE: “Hydro-electric and its role in producing Scotland’s energy is one of the greatest industrial success stories of post-war Britain. Hydro drove not only industrial development but also immense social achievement – something which still rings true today as the Scottish Government continues to grow delivery of clean energy through renewables schemes for the 21st Century.”
SSE is proposing a significantly larger pumped storage hydro scheme, Coire Glas, on Loch Lochy, in the Great Glen. The 600MW scheme is currently awaiting planning consent from Scottish Ministers. SSE believes Coire Glas could offer significant benefits to the GB electricity system in terms of capacity and flexibility, but it will require: a supportive public policy and regulatory framework, including the outcome of the UK Government’s electricity market reform proposals; changes to the transmission charging regime envisaged by Ofgem’s Project TransmiT; and the availability of a timely grid connection date. Until this support is clear, SSE is not able to make an investment decision on Coire Glas.
SSE’s Managing Director, Renewables, Jim Smith, said: “Scotland and SSE share a strong legacy of hydro-electric power and I am delighted to be able to announce our investment in the Glasa scheme in what is the 70th anniversary year of large-scale hydro development in Scotland.
“I believe that hydro has an important role to play in the decarbonisation of our generation fleet and in providing a flexible and reliable source of electricity within a balanced energy mix. “The support given by the Scottish Government in retaining the ROC banding for new hydro effectively led to SSE’s decision to proceed with the Glasa scheme. There are many more challenges to overcome in order to progress with larger projects such as Coire Glas and it is essential that policy makers recognise the benefits new pumped storage hydro will bring to the GB electricity market and ensure the right support mechanisms are in place.”
About the project: The Glasa hydro scheme is situated on the Kildermorie Estate, 10km from Ardross and 15km from Evanton to the south east. The scheme will consist of a new dam and storage reservoir at the head of Gleann Mhuire, a buried pipeline running down the glen, and a powerhouse with associated tailrace built next to the Abhainn na Glasa upstream of Kildermorie Lodge. The power station will be connected to the electricity network via a new 17km buried 33kV cable to the existing substation at Alness. The scheme was previously named Kildermorie after the estate in which it will be located. The project has been renamed Glasa due the registration of a micro hydro-electric scheme, also bearing the name of the estate. For more information on the project, visit www.sse.com/glasa