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Inverness hydro power scheme hits heatwave snag - no water

By Neil MacPhail

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Inverness's much praised hydro electric power station on the banks of the River Ness is temporarily powerless after falling victim to the recent dry spell.

Only a year after opening, the £2.5 million Ness Hydro hit a major snag - no water!

The problem is that Loch Ness and the River Ness system have experienced some of the lowest levels ever with little rain for weeks apart from the recent thunderstorms.

Steve Watt (53) a retired plumber and vice-chairman of Inverness Angling Club, said: "I don't think it has been able to run for between two and three months. It's a bit of a joke."

A spokesman for Highland Council remained buoyant however and said: “As with other renewable technologies generation can be intermittent based on the source of generation.

"Wind can be impacted by both high and low wind speed, solar reduces its yield in winter during periods of shorter daylight hours.

"Small scale hydro is reliant on water levels and generation adjusts accordingly.

"At the design stage periods of both low and high generation are factored in to ensure we maximise the possible production over a 12month cycle.”

The Highland Council has declared a Climate and Ecological emergency and aspires to be net zero by 2025, and the River Ness Hydro scheme will help reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint, and further generation and use of renewable energy.

Hydro Ness is a 92kW Archimedes screw scheme and interactive visitor experience which will generate over 500,000 kWh of renewable energy each year.

As water from the normally powerful River Ness flows into the Hydro, it turns a special screw. The movement is then converted into electricity.

The electricity generated will feed the nearby Inverness Leisure Centre, providing roughly 50% of the site’s electricity demand.

The project was partially funded through the council's Salix Recycling Fund, which gave the project its largest ever assistance made to a UK local authority.

Salix are a non-departmental public body, owned wholly by government, who provide interest-free loans to the public sector for energy efficiency projects.

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