SSE to build 7.5MW hydro-electric plant

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SSE announced today that it is to proceed with construction of the 7.5MW Glasa hydro-electric scheme but plans for a larger 600MW plant remain on hold.

The Glasa project was consented by Scottish ministers in 2010 and represents an investment by SSE of around £30m. Construction of the scheme will start in late summer this year and project completion is expected during the autumn of 2015. 

The Glasa scheme, located near Ardross in Scotland, will have a generating capacity of 7.5MW, which SSE believes will produce enough electricity to power around 10,000 homes, based on an average annual household energy consumption of 3,300KWh.

Once commissioned, it will be the largest hydro scheme to be built in the UK in over five years and the second largest conventional hydro scheme to be built in over half a century. 

In a statement, the company reiterated a previously held position that the development of new conventional hydro schemes such as Glasa would not be possible at the UK ROC (Renewable Obligation Certificate) level, which was reduced to 0.7 ROCs per MW following a July 2012 banding review.

Today’s announcement follows the decision by the Scottish government in September 2012 to retain the one ROC per MW support level for new conventional hydro in Scotland. 

SSE is proposing a significantly larger pumped storage hydro scheme, Coire Glas, on Loch Lochy, in the Great Glen. The 600MW scheme is currently awaiting planning consent from Scottish ministers.

SSE believes Coire Glas could offer significant benefits to the GB electricity system in terms of capacity and flexibility, but it will require a supportive public policy and regulatory framework, including the outcome of the UK government’s electricity market reform proposals; changes to the transmission charging regime envisaged by Ofgem’s Project TransmiT; and the availability of a timely grid connection date. Until this support is clear, SSE is not able to make an investment decision on Coire Glas. 

Jim Smith, SSE’s managing director, Renewables, said, ‘The support given by the Scottish government in retaining the ROC banding for new hydro effectively led to SSE’s decision to proceed with the Glasa scheme.

‘There are many more challenges to overcome in order to progress with larger projects such as Coire Glas and it is essential that policy makers recognise the benefits new pumped storage hydro will bring to the GB electricity market and ensure the right support mechanisms are in place.’