A key Highland hydro plant is to be upgraded to produce maximum capacity thanks to a Scottish Government ruling – firing the starting gun on benefits to the local economy.
Lochaber smelter owners SIMEC, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, said it will make a substantial investment to bring more than 40% more clean power at its Kinlochleven hydro power station.
SIMEC is one of the first power generation businesses to commit to new investment following the amendment to the Renewable Obligation order.
The order relaxed rules on the maximum output from renewable sources.
The Scottish Renewable Obligation amendment means the power station can now be upgraded so its maximum capacity increases from 19.5 megawatts to 27.5 megawatts.
As the company only receives support for generation up to 19.5 megawatts, the extra renewable energy unlocked by the upgrade will be produced without subsidy.
Jay Hambro, chief executive of SIMEC Energy and chief investment officer of the GFG Alliance, said: “With one amendment to the energy legislation, the Scottish Government has effectively allowed our significant investments at Kinlochleven to proceed.
“Our plans to bring the plant back to full capacity are all part of our broader objective to bring more value to the Highlands through the use of more locally generated power.
“We will generate over 40% more clean green power at no cost to the consumer.
“The development of Kinlochleven and the investment that goes along with it will unlock additional local jobs and benefits to the local economy during the construction phase and secure more economic growth by powering local industries going forward.
“We applaud Scottish Government’s amendment to the Renewables Obligation and we are grateful to the First Minister and to minister for energy, Paul Wheelhouse and his team for their work and vision in making this a reality.”
Paul Wheelhouse, minister for energy, connectivity and the islands, said: “The scale of the climate challenge faced by the global community means it is vital that we support investment in renewable electricity generation capacity.
“So, I am pleased to have taken forward the legislative amendment, with parliament’s support, to make it possible for operators of hydro generating stations to increase their renewable capacity and production, and I am delighted that SIMEC are already signalling they are keen to take up this opportunity.
“I look forward to seeing the proposed development of the Kinlochleven plant, and to seeing the expected, associated economic and environmental benefits come to fruition.”