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Gilkes Energy commissions 4 large new hydro projects

16th November 2017

Gilkes Energy is delighted to announce that a further four new hydro projects totalling 5.5MW have now been commissioned and started generating.

The Strathan, Loch an Laoigh and Uisge Dubh hydro projects are located on the Attadale Estate near the village of Strathcarron, Wester Ross in the Western Scottish Highlands. The three projects combined are 3.5MW capacity, use a combination of Pelton and Francis turbines and are connected to the grid via a common private wire.

The Pattack project is located on the Ardverikie Estate near Loch Laggan in the central Highlands of Scotland. It is a 2MW medium-head, high-flow design incorporating a dam and single intake, high-pressure pipeline and a high-efficiency Francis turbine in a purpose built powerhouse. The photograph on the right shows the completed dam.

Commenting on the projects, Carl Crompton of Gilkes Energy said: "Thanks to everyone who has worked on bringing these ambitious projects to fruition. It's unusual for four such large projects to come to fruition at the same time. The four projects supported approximately 80 full-time jobs at a very local level, for the duration of the construction period, along with 8-10 highly skilled engineering and project management jobs, all based in Scotland. Once operational the projects will employ a number of permanent part-time local 'caretakers' and maintenance and routine servicing will be provided to the projects by the Gilkes Service Centres in Invergordon and Fort William.

The projects are some of the largest to date developed by Gilkes Energy. Pattack Hydro has a large dam and long (6.5km) pipeline, but drops a relatively short vertical distance of 150m (the "Head" of the scheme). This means that the flow rate is high for its power output and large-diameter high-flow pipes (up to 1.7m in diameter) are required. Much of the cost of the project is in the dam and the pipeline so a significant 'value-engineering' exercise had to take place in order to make the project economics sufficiently robust. All hydro projects have different engineering and construction challenges. One of the main challenges of this project was to ensure that approximately 500 large-diameter, glass reinforced plastic 'GRP' pipes are placed with almost millimetre precision over a distance of 6.5km over a mix of different ground conditions.

These projects bring the total capital deployed in Gilkes Energy projects to more than £85m which is clearly a significant milestone. Bringing projects of this size to fruition takes years of effort. We need to manage the diverse interests of the statutory bodies, local stakeholders, landowners and investors. Additionally we have to work to very tight timescales due to deadlines imposed by the structure of the Feed In Tariff.

The professional team we have put together at Gilkes Energy includes engineers, project managers and finance specialists, all focussed on one thing - delivering quality hydro projects. Unlike other developers and consultants we offer a 'one stop shop' of capital and delivery ie investment and the expert design and project management services to realise that investment. All our projects to date have been delivered on time and budget, and provided it keeps raining, should deliver their target return on investment.

Hydro project assets last for a very long time, typically longer than 60 years, so have to be engineered with that timeframe in mind. Each project we deliver makes a small step towards our national renewable energy targets, and because the assets last for such a long time, our projects keep contributing to the fight against climate change year on year, long after the diggers have left site."

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