RWE Npower Renewables’ planned 4.5MW hydroelectric scheme on the Maldie Burn has been given the green light by the Scottish Government.

The RWE unit had submitted an application to build the small hydro scheme near Kylestrome on the Reay Forest Estate in Sutherland in June 2009. Ministers approved the project following a consultation, when the Highland Council raised no objections, subject to a number of conditions, and no public representations were received.

“This scheme will power 2,500 homes, create a good number of construction jobs in a remote location and provide lasting community benefits,” said Energy Minister Jim Mather. “Hydro still has an important role to play in the renewables revolution and the Maldie Burn scheme is a great example of using our natural assets to create new, low carbon jobs.”

The Scottish Government’s target is to meet 80% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. In 2009, 27% of electricity demand came from renewables. There is around 7GW of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, which will take Scotland beyond the interim target of 31% of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewables by 2011.

The Scottish Government has now determined 47 energy applications, including approval for 39 renewable and three non-renewable projects since May 2007 – more than double the number of determinations than over the whole of the previous four years, in which 19 projects were determined.

The Scottish Government’s Energy Consents and Deployment Unit is currently processing 32 applications (24 onshore wind, three hydro and five thermal).