Scotland finds potential for 1,019 hydro projects totaling 657 MW

The government of Scotland issued a report September 2 finding potential to develop 1,019 financially viable hydropower projects totaling 657 MW.

The Scottish Hydropower Resource Study was developed for the Forum for Renewable Energy Development in Scotland by the Scottish Institute of Sustainable Technology, Nick Forrest Associates, and Black &Veatch Ltd.

The study evaluated 60 separate rainfall catchments across Scotland, calculating flow patterns, sizing hydroelectric equipment to suit locations, and considering options for run-of-river operation, multiple intakes, and storage dams.

“While we are unlikely to see much in the way of further large-scale developments, it is clear there is huge untapped potential — and a sustainable and profitable future — in smaller and micro-hydro schemes,” Scotland Energy Minister Jim Mather said. “Each scheme would have to be assessed on its own merits, but if we can turn the tap on to new hydropower we can tackle climate change and continue to stimulate economic growth.”

The Scottish government has set a target of generating 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.

Chief Executive David Williams of the British Hydropower Association welcomed the Scottish hydropower study.

“Hydropower has long been the ‘quiet’ renewable and this will stimulate development of new projects of all sizes in a country which has already embraced the benign and significant role of this technology,” Williams said.

Rainfall, river gaging, computer modeling employed

In Phase 1 of the study, rainfall and river gaging data was used to establish a theoretical ceiling of 5,400 MW of potential hydropower — an amount that could never be reached because it would require all rainwater to be used for hydropower.

In Phase 2, Hydrobot, a geographic information system (GIS) based computer model, was used to model 36,252 practical and technically feasible sites totaling 2,593 MW. Reducing those to financially viable hydropower production arrived at the 1,019 potential hydro schemes, both run-of-river and storage sites, totaling 657 MW that would generate 2.77 terawatt-hours annually.

Potential schemes in which water might be diverted from one catchment to another were not considered, partly due to their potentially serious environmental consequences. However, the report said such diversions could create larger schemes that could be studied for a future report.

The study also evaluated various constraints to development. Notably, it said a third of the potential hydropower generation could not be accommodated by the existing electricity grid. (HNN 10/17/07) Additionally, areas designated for their natural heritage value reduce the number of potential hydro sites.

The report said market forces have a stronger influence on development of hydropower resources than most of the other values and policies within government control.

“However, market forces can be influenced to some extent by providing a stable support and permitting regime as these affect the investor’s perception of risk and hence the discount rate that they will require,” the report said. “Procedural change is worthy of immediate attention, such as removing unnecessary delays and restrictions in the hydro planning process where the impacts are weaker and defensible with simple mitigation measures.”

Hydro utility Scottish &Southern Energy has said it plans to build at least one new hydro project in Scotland and has identified other potential schemes in the Scottish Highlands that could be built if there were changes to the government’s planning system. (HNN 3/28/08)

The report may be obtained from the Scottish government Internet site,, under the link

Scotland’s 100-MW Glendoe begins storing water

Scottish &Southern Energy closed the 100-MW Glendoe Dam in a September 1 ceremony at Loch Ness attended by Scotland First Minister Alex Salmond.

“Scottish &Southern Energy’s Glendoe scheme is the first large-scale hydroelectric station to be built in Scotland for 50 years,” Salmond said. “This is one of the projects which will ensure Scotland’s long tradition of generating hydropower continues for many years to come.”

Closing of the dam begins the storage of water for eventual hydropower generation at the site, possibly as early as December. (HNN 1/8/08) Glendoe requires investment of more than 140 million pounds (US$275 million) and is to generate about 180 million kWh annually.

The project includes construction of a new reservoir, an underground power station, and tunnels that will allow water to be discharged into Loch Ness, 600 meters below.

When complete, Glendoe will be Scotland’s second largest conventional hydropower plant and the first large-scale plant built since 1957, SSE said. It is included among SSE’s 600 million pounds (US$1.2 billion) in investments in to reduce its carbon emissions.


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