New £12m hydro scheme opens in the Highlands

THE latest hydro development in the north of Scotland, producing 3MW of power, has officially launched.

The intake weir at Scotland's latest hydro scheme. Picture: Contributed

The Cia Aig Hydro Scheme is located on the Abhainn Chia-aig river, at the eastern end of Loch Arkaig, approximately 20 miles to the north of Fort William.

The scheme took 24 months to construct at a cost of just under £12M, and became operational with the first turbine in February 2016.

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RWE Innogy UK’s latest run-of-river hydro scheme in Scotland was officially inaugurated by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy together with Hans Bünting, the firm’s chief operating officer for renewables.

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Dr Bunting said: “Scotland is a great place to do business. We value the skilled supply chain that Scotland can offer and when developing our renewables projects, it is important to us that we are able to work with local companies and to maximise the economic benefits to the local economy.”

Mr Paul Wheelhouse added: “Congratulations to RWE Innogy UK on the inauguration of their hydro power station Cia Aig.

“This 3MW hydro scheme will help contribute to the growing importance of hydro generation in Scotland - the largest source of renewable power in Scotland after onshore wind.

“I welcome RWE Innogy UK’s commitment to provide community benefit funding associated with their renewables schemes including their Cia Aig hydro development.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the development of renewables – including hydropower – as part of Scotland’s balanced energy portfolio, and we are already developing an overarching energy strategy, setting out what we can do to optimise the benefits of Scotland’s significant energy resources and expertise through to 2030.”

Simon Hamlyn, Chief Executive of British Hydropower Association said: “We are delighted that another of our member’s schemes is now in full operation and we welcome this opportunity to demonstrate to Scottish Government the positive impact the development of new hydropower has on Scottish communities.

“There is now more than 177 MW of small-scale hydropower available in Scotland with approximately 1,700 people working in the sector in Scotland and increasingly many local communities are taking a stake.

“Small-scale hydropower energy is a popular, long-term form of low carbon energy with a generation profile which matches demand and supports a significant Scottish supply chain.

“With the right support from Scottish Government, this industry can continue generating rural jobs and green energy in Scotland for many years to come.”

Hannah Smith, Policy Officer at Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland’s Highlands are synonymous with hydropower and developments like Cia Aig, which continue to make the most of the area’s superb natural resources, are to be welcomed.
“This technology already provides more than a quarter of the renewable electricity generated in Scotland, and with the right support from government hydro at all scales can continue to thrive, delivering economic benefits and helping us meet our climate targets.”