North firms Global Energy Group and Global Infrastructure have been named among the key contractors appointed on a £50million project to extend the operational life of one of Scotland’s oldest hydro power plants.
Work to “repower” SSE Renewables’ Tummel Bridge Power Station, in Perthshire, is due to start next Spring and continue until late 2023.
It will involve replacing the plant’s two existing hydro turbines with new modern technology to increase its power generation output.
Beauly-based Global Infrastructure will be responsible for enabling works, including site establishment and superstructure bracing work at the 88-year-old building.
Global Energy Group will carry our fabrication and modification for the project at its Port of Nigg facilities, in Easter Ross.
The plant’s owner SSE Renewables said the £50 million investment will create 65 jobs and extend its operational life by at least 40 years.
It is planned to be completed in late 2023, to coincide with the hydro power plant’s 90th anniversary.
The multi-million-pound investment is the largest SSE Renewables has made in its existing hydro fleet in recent times.
It means the Tummel Bridge Hydro plant will be running in the power system of 2050.
The move comes as greater emphasis is being placed on the role of hydro power to help Scotland achieve its goal of net zero greenhouse gas by 2045.
The UK is targeting reaching the same goal by 2050.
Located in the centre of the overall Tummel valley hydro scheme, Tummel Bridge power station was commissioned in 1933.
That makes it one of the oldest hydro power plants in Scotland.
The work will begin in spring 2022 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.
It currently delivers around 140 GWh of renewable generation output each year.
As well as generating its own power output, it plays an important role in moving water on to the Clunie and Pitlochry power stations.
As part of the improvements, the existing two ‘camel back’ twin-runner, hydro turbines at Tummel Bridge will be replaced with modern runner technology.
‘Significant investment’ in Tummel Bridge
That will mean a rise in water flow which will lead to an increase in output at the plant from 34MW to 38MW.
Once the works are completed, the plant will have a peak output of 40MW during optimum conditions.
SSE Renewables head of hydro operations Peter Diver welcomed the “significant investment”.
He said: “I’m delighted we are demonstrating our commitment to our existing hydro fleet.
“Hydro power is Scotland’s original source of renewable energy.
“It has an increasingly vital role to play in our path to achieving net zero carbon emissions in Scotland by 2045 and the UK by 2050.
“By replacing the existing turbines at Tummel Bridge, we will be able to safely extend the operational life of the station by at least 40 years.“Tummel Bridge will be part of our future net-zero power system.”
Mr Diver said replacing the existing turbines would help “make best use of the available water flow” to increase output.
Hydro becoming ‘increasingly important’
The Tummel Bridge investment announcement was made today at the annual Scottish Renewables Hydro Conference.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said: “A mix of renewable energy technologies will be needed if we are to meet our climate change targets, as well as smart systems to manage the way power is generated, transported and used.
“Hydro, which provides almost a fifth of Scotland’s clean electricity, is an increasingly important part of that energy mix, providing as it does the flexibility to generate when power is most needed.”
She said further investment in pumped storage hydropower could mean a more certain path to net-zero carbon emissions by 2045.
She said it would also bring “significant benefits” to local supply chain companies and communities.
SSE Renewables is also progressing the development of its consented 1.5GW Coire Glas pumped storage project in Scotland’s Great Glen.