SCOTTISH AND SOUTHERN Energy (SSE) plans to develop a £85M (US$138.4M) hydro power project to be located close to Loch Ness. The UK-based utility has submitted to the Scottish Executive applications under Section 36 and Schedule 5 of the Electricity Act for permission to develop and construct what will be Scotland’s first large-scale hydroelectric scheme for 40 years.

The proposed scheme is at Glendoe in the western end of the Monadhliath mountains, to the east of Fort Augustus in Inverness-shire. The power station itself, which is likely to be built underground, will be located close to the south east corner of Loch Ness.

Its installed capacity has yet to be determined, but it will be between 50MW and 100MW, making it possibly the third and at least the sixth largest of SSE’s 54 hydroelectric stations.

Whatever the final installed capacity, the power station will produce around 150M units of green electricity in a year of average rainfall ­ enough for almost 40,000 homes.

The scheme would involve collecting water from around 75km2 ­ either directly or via 17km of underground aqueducts ­ in a new reservoir over 600m above Loch Ness.

The new reservoir would be situated at the head of Glen Tarff and would be impounded by a dam approximately 1000m long, making it the longest dam in SSE’s portfolio. The dam will be 35m at its highest point.

As part of the pre-planning process, the scheme has been subject to a detailed environmental assessment, the scope was developed in consultation with Scottish Natural Heritage and with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Construction will start as soon as Section 36 and Schedule 5 consents are received, and the construction itself is likely to take around three years, followed by one year to fully commission the power station. On this basis, the new scheme is likely to be generating electricity from 2008. Up to 400 jobs are expected to be created during the construction phase.
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