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  • terrystebbings

We are a Hydro Nation...(Sort of)

Some time ago (2 years!) we posted about our thoughts on our Hydro Nation, and the increasing challenges being experienced in successfully designing and building a hydro scheme, of any size.

This despite the potential we have in Scotland and particularly the Highlands, and the benefits these schemes can bring in terms of dispersed generation and meeting the many renewable / low carbon aims that we are all (mostly) aspiring to.



This year, we have built two schemes. This has been made possible in part because of the higher price of electricity, which has not been great for most people, but also because we managed to get people to talk (the subject of a slightly less aged post).


With input from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and a fair bit of teasing it out with Scottish Environment Protection Agency we managed to be able to design and build good schemes.


Hydro schemes remain a capitally intensive investment, but with load factors of 2-5 times their wind and solar brethren these are good producers. This is nothing new. So, have we got over that 3 year hump?


Maybes aye, maybes no?


Well, maybes not quite.


We still have challenges:

  • Planning applications overdue, one for a <5kW hybrid offgrid system that offsets diesel - 7 months late with no reason provided.

  • The grid remains an issue – we need to get consistency and a clear idea of what is, or isn’t, currently allowable and where.

  • It would be great if Scottish Environment Protection Agency would open up their local offices and let us go and see them again, or even just talk to them.



Technically, advances in our thinking and the equipment we use, coupled with experience of how we build offgrid systems mean for some sites we can build a work around. There is a cost, and it’s a cost benefit analysis no different to many others.

The question remains, should we have to be fighting this hard, and (in essence) amongst ourselves, to do the right thing?


Collaboration, and Innovation are key to allowing us to find ways to overcome these challenges. Imagine though what we could achieve if we could focus time and effort on beating the real issues, the technological / environmental / social challenges we face in moving through this next energy revolution.


We’ve got some exciting projects for next year. Lets hope we can build on this year, talk a bit more, help to meet each other’s objectives.

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