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RBCHS weir 700 x 300

Hugh Wallace was the founder of Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Scheme (500kW), and is now undergoing development work for a proposed scheme at Loch a Bhroin in Ross-shire (2MW).  To discuss hydro opportunities with Hugh call 01577 840579 or contact us.  

Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Scheme

This is a 500kW run of river scheme on the River Devon, which capitalizes on the vertical drop created by Rumbling Bridge gorge coupled with flows from a wide catchment area.   The hydro scheme is now generating enough renewable electricity each year to power over 500 homes.  The pipe route runs from the intake weir just upstream of Naemoor Gardens to the downstream side of the Gorge. Its 1350m long with a 45m vertical drop and makes use of an old railway cutting. 

Hugh comments “the lightbulb moment was when I saw photos of the old railway cutting at the Dollar Museum – previously the deep dig through Briglands look prohibitively expensive – but with the rock breaking already undertaken in  the 1860’s we could re-use the same route and the project became viable.  After years of development it is extremely exciting to see the project come to fruition and offer so much benefit locally, both in terms of renewable electricity generated and the Community Benefit Fund.  As the largest Community Hydro Scheme in Scotland this is a great asset for both the local Community and Scotland".
 

Glendevon Energy founded the scheme with the support of a CARES loan, and Energy4All financed the project – enabling the local community to benefit as much as possible from the development by establishing the Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Society (RBCHS). RBCHS own and administer the scheme, with E4All as administrators, and Glendevon Energy providing the maintenance contract. The Scheme was officially launched by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy on 28th October 2016, for photographs and information click here.  

GW E4A Rumbling Hydro logo final small

 

Loch a Bhraoin - Proposed Hydro Project

Following the success of the Rumbling Bridge Hydro project, Hugh identified another opportunity at Loch a Bhraoin in Wester Ross.  There are several similarities to Rumbling Bridge; namely another relatively low head/ high flow scheme with a pipe line tracking the existing road and  some historical routes, albeit not Railways!  There are also some complications to the land and water rights not to mention civil engineering challenges. One Estate will host most of the infrastructure and provides much of the catchment while a second has a riparian interest and SSE have an interest regarding impact on their downstream Cuileig scheme.  This less than straightforward scenario warranted another CARES loan application, which was duly provided in the summer of 2016, just as Rumbling Bridge started generating.

Following a great deal of  feasibility work, environmental scoping and negotiation, planning and CAR  license applications for a 2MW scheme are planned for March 2018.   While there are still some uncertainties over  the wider electricity grid, connecting into the 33kV line looks positive following recent upgrade works at Grudie Bridge.

In these straightened times with huge FIT reductions  this scheme offers   genuine attractions by virtue of the storage that can be harnessed in Loch a Bhraoin. This will lead to both longer run times and the scope for trading  in the short term electricity markets.

One of the CARES loan conditions is that every effort is made to follow the Scottish Governments best practice guidelines for community investment. To that end the local community is being offered the opportunity to invest in 20% of the project, and discussions with the community are ongoing.

 

To discuss hydro opportunities with Glendevon Energy call 01577 840579 or contact us.  

 

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