Green Highland Renewables (GHR) have just begun construction of three separate hydro schemes near Achnacarry in the Scottish Highlands, all linked by a 9.5km private grid network.
The three mutually supportive schemes are located on the north shore of Loch Arkaig, about 15 miles north of For William. They will generate a total of 2.5MW, enough power to supply nearly 2000 homes and are being financed by investment management group Triple Point which has now supported five Green Highland Renewables projects since 2010.
“Loch Arkaig is quite remote, with challenging topography, and the cost to connect each scheme to the grid individually would have been prohibitive” said GHR Chief Executive Officer Richard Round. “However by linking them together with a dedicated private grid, which then ties into the local distribution network, we can make all the projects generate an economic return.”
Mr Round added that the projects, which are 750kW, 500kW and 1250kW respectively, constitute an innovative and holistic approach that the company has already used successfully in a number of other developments.
Two of the developments, Allt Dubh and Loch Blair, lie fully within the Achnacarry Estate, whilst the third, Allt Cheanna Mhuir, lies partly on Forestry Commission Scotland land. The local Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes Community Group will receive a royalty payment in addition to a community benefit of £5000 per MW per annum.
GHR first began work on the Achnacarry projects in 2009 and much of the time since then has been spent waiting for a grid connection date. Consents were secured in 2013.
The projects will be constructed by MAM Contracting, which has worked with GHR previously. They will incorporate Austrian Kössler turbines. Completion of the projects is expected in 2015 and the company is already looking at two further projects in the immediate area.