Gilkes Energy has begun construction of the 0.9MW Kames Hydro project located on the east shore of Loch Awe on the National Forest Estate managed by Forestry Commission Scotland.
The company describes the project as a "classic" high-head design incorporating a single intake, high-pressure pipeline and a Gilkes Twin-Jet Pelton turbine in a purpose built powerhouse.
Planning permission and the SEPA CAR license were received in late 2013. After a detailed tendering and procurement exercise the project has now formally achieved 'Financial Close' and the civil construction team started to mobilize last week. The scheme is planned to be operational by March 2015.
The scheme is the second Gilkes Energy project to secure funding from Downing Renewables - a specialist fund manager focussed on renewable energy project development.
"After nearly four years of work we are very pleased to have achieved Financial Close on this project," said Gilkes Energy's Carl Crompton.
He continued, "The project now has the certainty and confidence of both the Feed In Tariff and a fully-secured funding package so we can now concentrate on building the scheme. The civil contractor on this project is George McNaughton and Son, who is based just round the corner from the project in Lochgilphead, Argyll. The project therefore will support approximately 15 full-time jobs at a very local level, for the duration of the construction period, along with a permanent part-time local 'caretaker' role once operational. The project is being designed and project-managed from the Gilkes Energy Glasgow office, and so supports an additional 4-5 highly skilled jobs."
Commenting on the project, David Jardine, from Forestry Commission Scotland said: "We are delighted to see the start of this project and have been working with the Gilkes Energy team on this project for a number of years - it is exciting to finally see machinery arriving and "ground being broken'.
"The Commission is very pleased with the co-operation and good relations we have had throughout with the local community, Argyll and Bute Council Planners, SEPA, SNH and SSE , and look forward to watching the project take shape. The Kames project is the first of a number of hydro projects Gilkes Energy will build on the National Forest Estate, and we hope that this one continues to progress well," he said.