On Aug. 23, Forestry Commission Scotland and Loch Eil Estates in partnership with RWE Npower Renewables commissioned the run-of-river US$15.9 million 3-MW Cia Aig small hydropower scheme after more than a total of six years of development and construction.
According to RWE, it received consent for the new hydroelectric generating scheme located on the Abhainn Chia-aig River, at the eastern end of Loch Arkaig, 15 km north of Fort William, Scotland, from the Scottish government in June 2010.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency under the Controlled Activities Regulations granted a water license for the project. Some of the scheme’s equipment includes the following:
- An intake weir on the Abhainn Chia-aig River;
- A 3.2-km-long buried pipeline from the intake to the powerhouse;
- A powerhouse that contains two vertical five-nozzle Pelton turbines, one each at 1.01 MW and 1.99 MW;
- A discharge of returning water via a tailrace upstream from the Chia Aig waterfall;
- High voltage switchgear;
- A transformer; and
- A power cable connecting to overhead power lines.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP, minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, together with Hans Bünting, chief operating officer for Renewables of RWE were onsite for the plant’s inauguration.
The scheme took 24 months to construct and became operational with the first turbine in February 2016.
Bünting said, “Scotland is a great place to do business. We value the skilled supply chain that Scotland can offer and when developing our renewables projects, it is important to us that we are able to work with local companies and to maximize the economic benefits to the local economy.”
Simon Hamlyn, chief executive of the British Hydropower Association, said, “We are delighted that another of our member’s schemes is now in full operation and we welcome this opportunity to demonstrate to Scottish government the positive impact the development of new hydropower has on Scottish communities.”
According to the association, there is now more than 177 MW of small-scale hydropower available in Scotland with about 1,700 people working in the sector in Scotland and increasingly many local communities are taking a stake.
Hamlyn also said small-scale hydropower energy is a popular, long-term form of low carbon energy that has a generation profile which matches demand and supports a significant Scottish supply chain. With the right support from Scottish government, this industry can continue generating rural jobs and green energy in Scotland for many years to come.
After the commissioning of the Cia Aig scheme, RWE now operates 15 hydroelectric power stations in Scotland.