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New 700 kW Hydropower Project in Remote Scottish Forestry Site

New 700 kW Hydropower Project in Remote Scottish Forestry Site
Allt Eilidh 700 kW Pelton Hydropower System

Allt Eilidh 700 kW Pelton Hydropower System

The Allt Eilidh Hydropower project consists of a 700 kW Pelton turbine operating at approximately 453 l/s mean flow rate at a site with gross head of 130 m.  The consented abstraction flow rate is 680 l/s.

The hydropower scheme will generate approximately 2,300,000 kWh of electricity in a typical year, enough to provide electricity for approximately 700 average homes, saving an equivalent of 610 Tonnes of CO2 per year when compared to typical fossil fuelled electricity generation. The typical lifespan of a well maintained, good quality hydropower system is over 40 years.

Allt Eilidh 700 kW Pelton Hydropower System

Forestry and Land Scotland leased land

The project is located on beautiful rural forestry land in the west of Scotland on land adjacent to Glen Creran Woods, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, with rare butterflies, bryophytes, fish, otters and golden eagles present nearby. The turbine house and system have been designed to discretely fit in with this natural landscape. The land is leased from Forestry and Land Scotland ( formerly Forestry Commission Scotland), and this project is Renewables First’s third hydropower system on  Forestry Commission Scotland land.

The site is very remote, with an 11 km single track from the nearest main road, consisting of 7 km single track public road and 4 km of private forestry track. The hydropower system is literally the end of the road!

It has been four years since Renewables First began work on this renewable energy project. In this time Renewables First have completed a number of important tasks necessary to bring such a hydropower project into fruition.

Firstly, a detailed feasibility study was completed to determine the viability of the hydropower scheme, followed by managing and obtaining all environmental, grid and planning consents, including outline design of the scheme.

However, the project hit a snag – A grid connection offer was made by the Distribution Network Operation for a capacity 510 kW, but its high cost of £ 1.5 million made the project unviable. Renewables First persisted in trying to find a grid connection offer for a variety of system capacities to make the project viable. A number of other connection capacities were considered – 34 kW, 100 kW and 500 kW.

This year a breakthrough was made when our engineers developed an alternate design which significantly reduced the grid connection cost, while increasing the capacity to 700 kW, which made the project viable.

Timber crop clearance for penstock route

Another key issue the required careful planning and management was to develop a close liaison with Forestry & Land Scotland to determine an agreeable mutual beneficial solution to allow the project to proceed. This included securing a revision to the Forestry Land Management Plan to allow extraction of 9 hectares of timber to clear the penstock route. The area of land harvested for wood will later be replanted with a new forestry crop or natural woodland mix of trees.

Finally, to allow the project to proceed, a solution had to be found to overcome the poor existing electrical grid infrastructure, with the nearest split phase electricity line being 1.5 km from the proposed hydro location.  This has meant significant work was necessary to find a cost-effective solution to connect to the electricity network. Renewables First had to design and agree a solution to this problem and find a suitable electrical contractor willing to install 1.5 km of private electrical cabling to allow connection to the grid.

Once these issues were overcome, the Allt Eilidh Hydropower scheme was able to proceed to the next stage in project delivery.

Renewables First are now progressing with the construction stages of the project – this includes detailed hydropower system design, project management, mechanical and electrical installation and system commissioning.

We are working for our client, Glen Creran Hydro Ltd, with our civil engineering contractor, P Bluett Ltd and our electrical contractors to design and build the project which is due to be commissioned during the winter of 2020.

The installation consists of three phases.

  • The current phase, due to be completed by the end of 2019, involves felling of 9 hectares of a forestry tree crop, laying of 1.5 Km private electrical cabling and detailed design of the hydropower system.
  • The second phase is the building and installation of the intake screen penstock and hydro turbine power house which is due for completion in Spring / Summer of 2020.
  • Finally, during the Winter of 2020, the Distribution Network Operator, SSE plc, will complete the electrical grid connection and Renewables First will commission the system and start generating low carbon electricity.

As the project progresses, we will provide more information about the project’s progress, so watch this space for further updates of the delivery of the Allt Eilidh Hydropower scheme!

Are you considering a hydropower project ?

Renewables First have considerable experience as a hydro consultant and have a full project capability, from initial feasibility study through to system design and installation.

The first step to develop any hydropower site is to conduct a full feasibility study.

Contact us about a feasibility study today!

Once complete, you will understand the site potential and be guided through the next steps to develop your project. You can read more about hydropower in our Hydro Learning Centre.

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