Archimedes shows how to turn the screw on soaring energy bills

Hydro Ness is now up and running – delivered by the Highland Council with the support of design company, Mather & Co.

The scheme uses twin Archimedes Screws to harness the energy of the River Ness and will generate around 550,000 kWh of renewable electricity annually.

That will power the nearby Aquadome swimming pool and leisure centre and within seven or eight years it is expected to recoup the original investment.

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The highly recognisable dome structure was designed by local artist Claire Maclean, who was inspired not only by the river and the plants and creatures that call it home but also by the mythology surrounding the Loch Ness monster.

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Project manager at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Emma Robertson said: “The hydroelectric scheme is an innovative project that provides an excellent opportunity for young people to learn about renewable energy generation while demonstrating career opportunities and pathways

Hydro Ness is a flagship sustainability, self-financing project worth £2.67m, which has delivered a new 92kW ‘Archimedes Screw’ hydroelectric scheme and interpretive visitor experience on the River Ness.

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Designers, Mather & Co, worked alongside the Highland Council to design and develop interpretation within the hydroelectric scheme.

Their role within the project was to create a site that offers educational information about the Hydro, climate change and other important topics for visitors and school groups. It is hoped this will contribute to their STEM learning - showing young enthusiasts a practical example of green engineering that can help contribute to a better Highland.

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The Hydro Ness development is stunning when lit up at night

Malissa Geersing, Senior Project Designer at Mather & Co said: “It has been an honour to work with the team on the interpretive design of the Hydro Ness project, which illustrates the power of the river promoting sustainability and helps to inspire future generations.”

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The design experts have also developed an interpretive experience through the new landscaped area, which includes crafted benches, interpretive panels, lighting, a tree grate around the ‘jubilee tree’ and interpretation for the buried time capsule. The Hydro Ness will provide an engaging experience for all ages, using interpretation to promote several key messages across the site.

Martin MacDonald, Hydro Ness Project Manager said: “The interpretive content is such a vital part of this project – we felt the nature of the setting and incredible steel structure demanded high quality interpretation to help articulate key messaging.

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"The content has really elevated the site and enhanced a fantastic and accessible green space. We are really grateful for the creativity and enthusiasm Mather & Co have brought to the project.”

An aerial image captured by a drone shows the minimal footprint of the Hydro Ness power scheme
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The hydroelectric scheme will generate electricity using a hydro turbine to power approximately 50% of the electricity use at Inverness Leisure Centre. Hydro Ness showcases how science and nature can work together to make the world a better place and to encourage visitors to think about their personal impact on the environment.

Hydro Ness is now open to the public and is expected to attract an influx of visitors from the local area and further abroad – and will be popular with tourists tackling the North Coast 500 route..

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The project will generate power and spark an interest in the environment and STEM subjects among younger visitors

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