New Hydro Concept Demonstrated In Fife

River Energy Systems deviceA Fife based company has been demonstrating a new concept in hydro energy in the River Leven, near Methilhill.

River Energy Systems, based in Methil, has developed the device and is hoping to move into production this year, thanks to support from Scottish Enterprise and a contribution of £260,000 under the SMART Research & Development initiative. The support was awarded to help the company undertake development of the device to the point where it can be commercialised.

The river device, named Hydros, is based on a helical screw which rotates with the movement of the water to generate electrical power. It is scaleable to any river size, sits under the water line and is designed to have a minimal impact on the river environment.

The Crown Estate has already granted a lease for a device to be placed in a larger river and market opportunities have been identified in Scotland, UK and overseas. As the product is easily scaleable it offers effective results to a number of different markets from private estates to local authorities.

Paul Trayner, managing director of River Energy Systems, said, “It is exciting that we are now able to demonstrate this device to potential investors and customers. This trial device, which was designed and manufactured in Fife, could, itself, supply a typical house with its energy needs so the opportunity for a much bigger river is significant.”

Ronnie McKechan, Account Manager of Scottish Enterprise said, “This kind of innovation is potentially very important both to the energy market but also to the Fife economy. We are keen to see the working prototype move into production and are very encouraged that River Energy Systems have a number of key customers and markets showing interest in the concept. “

Cllr Tom Adam, chair of Levenmouth Area Committee said, “Fife is fast becoming recognised as a centre of excellence in the renewables industry and the continuing innovation and manufacturing opportunities are great news for jobs and the local economy. The new concept we have seen today is proof indeed that supporting businesses in FRIC and the Energy Park Fife is producing great results. It’s also great to hear that if successful this project will create jobs locally too.”


Cruachan Power Station To Recieve Award

World’s first major pumped storage hydro scheme recognised

Looking down from the upper reservoir to Loch Awe

Looking down from the upper reservoir to Loch Awe
Photo by James Heaton

Today the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) will present an Engineering Heritage Award to Cruachan Power Station, the world’s first high-head reversible pumped-storage power station. Built between 1959 and 1965, Cruachan is one of only four pumped hydroelectric facilities currently operating in the UK.

Cruachan Power Station plays an important  role in helping to balance the nation’s electricity supply by enabling energy to be temporarily stored to meet peaks in demand. This is achieved by managing water resources between a reservoir high on the slopes of Ben Cruachan and Loch Awe, 396 metres below.

Using its reversible turbines, the station uses cheap electricity at times of low grid demand to pump water from Loch Awe to fill the upper reservoir. At times of peak demand the stored water can then be released through the plant’s turbines to generate up to 440MW of electricity for up to 20 hours. When the plant is on ‘spinning reserve’ the generators can be brought to full output within 30 seconds.

The plant can also operate like a conventional hydro-electric station using rainwater from its catchment area – around 10% of its annual generated output is produced in this way.

Cruachan visitor centre is open from February to December. See for more information.

John Muir Trust Unable To Grasp How Pumped Storage Works

Says Coire Glas ‘would use more energy than it could produce’

Looking West towards the proposed dam site at Choire GlasAn almost unbelieveable article in today’s Herald  says that the John Muir Trust,  the  most obstructive and reactionary of all our environmental ‘guardians’, is obejcting to the proposed Coire Glas pumped hydro scheme because ‘pumped storage is not a renewable technology’ and ‘ uses more electricity to pump the water to the upper reservoirs than is generated when it flows down’.

This is of course patent nonsense. The whole concept of pumped storage is that the water is pumped uphill using electricity that is surplus to requirements at off-peak times (usually at night) then is used to generate electricity at times of peak demand.

There is  nothing better than pumped hydro for meeting sudden peaks in demand, as the turbines can be started in minutes if there is a head of water in the top reservoir.

 Of course, the real reason the JMT are against pumped storage is because more storage capacity is good for windfarms, and JMT are total turbophobes.

An SSE spokesperson said:  “We believe increased pumped storage capacity has an important role to play in balancing the grid – using surplus energy when demand is low and making it rapidly available when it is needed.  Both conventional and pumped storage hydro schemes already have a strong track record of providing clean, flexible electricity generation for Scotland.”


UPDATE 31/10/2012

Highland councillors have given their backing to the scheme. The Scottish government will have the final say, and MCoS and JMT will just have to get used to the slightly altered  scenery in Coire Glas. Below you can see a visualisation of the dam from  Kilfinnan Glen  . . . hardly Mordor, is it?

Coire Glas visualisation -  proposed dam from Kilfinnan Glen


SSE Coire Glas hydro scheme

Previous articles:

Loch Lochy Pumped Storage – ‘Green’ Groups Object

MCoS Will Also Object To Coire Glas Hydro Scheme



Glasgow Hydropower Conference To Hear Of Industry Problems

British Hydropower Conference Tues 23rd Oct – Weds 24th Oct

Garmony Hydro SchemeThis is the BHA’s 11th annual conference – the only national conference and technical exhibition wholly dedicated to the hydropower industry. This two-day event will incorporate a comprehensive and stimulating conference programme, a technical exhibition showcasing recent innovations, expertise and solutions, and a conference dinner.

Baby Hydro, the consultancy firm hired by the Scottish Government to assess the country’s untapped hydroelectric potential, will give a presentation illustrating some of the problems the industry faces, most notably of poor grid connections, lack of suitably skilled workers and difficulties raising finance.

For more information on the conference  click HERE

Hydro Electric Power Generation Restarts At Glendoe

Station restarted after three years offline for rockfall repairs

Generation at the 100MW Glendoe hydro electric scheme near Loch Ness, owned and operated by SSE plc, has re-started, with around 3GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity already being produced and exported to the transmission network.

This follows the completion of the work undertaken at Glendoe to restore power following its interruption in August 2009 as a result of a rock fall in the tunnel carrying water from the scheme reservoir to the power station. 

Glendoe’s main operational feature is that it is able to start generating electricity at full capacity in just 30 seconds and can therefore help to meet changes in demand.  In a year of average rainfall, its output should be around 180GWh of electricity.

Paul Smith, Managing Director, Generation, at SSE said:

“The work to restore electricity generation at Glendoe has been undertaken in a very rigorous way to make sure that this strategic asset meets its original design criteria and is ready to play its full part in supporting the country’s electricity system for many decades to come.

“We will continue to monitor closely the performance of Glendoe to make sure that the reconstruction work has been fully successful, ensuring sustainable generation at the site, similar to that achieved at our other schemes such as Sloy on Loch Lomond which is still generating power more than 60 years after being commissioned.”

Glendoe Dam and Reservoir

Glendoe Dam and Reservoir                                                    photo – Sarah McGuire