Simec hydro power station ups output to generate enough electricity for Inverness

The international energy business behind Kinlochleven hydro-electric power station has announced that the facility has increased generation to its highest level for nearly 20 years – providing enough electricity to power a city the size of Inverness.

Simec, part of GFG Alliance, acquired the asset in 2016. Picture: contributed.

Simec, part of industrialist Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, in 2016 acquired the asset located on the Jahama Highland Estate.

The firm said the power station has just generated an average of 23.27 megawatts (MW) of clean green power following a recent upgrade to capacity.

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The increase, to the highest output since 2002, follows the first phase of a significant investment programme undertaken by Simec to reinstate defunct side-stream intakes and improve the efficiency of water-collection on the hydro scheme.

Kinlochleven harnesses water power from the Black Water chain of lochs through a 13-kilometre reservoir. Picture: contributed.

The outcome “represents a step-up in clean energy to help power Scottish homes and industry,” Simec said.

The energy firm was previously accredited to produce 19.5MW of power under the Scottish Government’s Renewable Obligation scheme. Legislative changes to the government’s scheme have made it economic to increase capacity above this level at Kinlochleven.

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Simec said Kinlochleven was the first major hydro-electric project in Britain, built between 1905 and 1909. It harnesses water power from the Black Water chain of lochs through a 13-kilometre reservoir. The Blackwater dam, which serves Kinlochleven, is the longest in the Scottish Highlands.

Simec also owns the nearby Lochaber hydro station, which produces power for Alvance British Aluminium, which it stressed is the only smelter remaining in the UK.

Commitment

Additionally, Simec has committed to invest further in renewable energy on its estate lands in the Highlands by applying for consent to build a £158 million wind farm at Glenshero and is in the construction and development phase of further hydro projects across the estate.

Jay Hambro, head of Simec Energy and chief investment officer of the GFG Alliance, said: “Green energy will be vital in keeping the lights on in Scotland for future generations, and Simec is committed to playing a key role.”

He welcomed Simec increasing capacity at Kinlochleven, adding: “GFG Alliance is one of Scotland’s most significant investors, with Liberty, Alvance and Jahama having invested well over £500m in Scotland to date, and employing more than 400 people in country. We are committed to schemes that work to the benefit of both local communities and the environment.”

Simec in February 2019 said Kinlochleven had increased its production by 20 per cent. Hambro said at the time: “As a committed investor, we are focused on maximising the site’s capacity to support local economic growth, as well as helping to generate more renewable energy in Scotland at no cost to the consumer.”

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