THE UK’s biggest hydro electricity scheme in five years is to be built in Ross-shire.
SSE said it will begin construction on the £30m Glasa scheme near Ardross later this year. And it has pledged to work with its civil and mechanical contractors to maximise opportunities for Highland and Scottish businesses.
The project, previously named Kildermorie, was consented by Scottish Ministers in 2010. Construction will start in late summer this year and completion is expected during autumn 2015.
Glasa will have a generating capacity of 7.5MW and will produce enough renewable electricity to power around 10,000 homes. It will become the second largest conventional hydro scheme to be built in more than 50 years.
Workforce on the project will vary and it is expected to reach more than 100 at the peak of construction. Contracts will be posted on SSE’s online portal that allows local businesses to apply for opportunities across a range of projects in the Highlands and Islands.
SSE is proposing a significantly larger pumped storage hydro scheme, Coire Glas, on Loch Lochy in the Great Glen. The 600MW project is currently awaiting planning consent from Scottish Ministers.
SSE’s managing director for renewables, Jim Smith, said: “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.”
However, he added that there are many more challenges to overcome in order to progress with larger projects such as Coire Glas and warned it is essential that policy makers recognise the benefits new pumped storage hydro will bring to the electricity market.
The scheme will consist of a new dam and storage reservoir, a buried pipeline and a powerhouse with associated tailrace. The power station will be connected to the electricity network via a new 17km buried 33kV cable to an existing substation.