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WATCH: Minister for net zero Michael Matheson officially opens 'fantastic' Hydro Ness calling the project a real 'stand-out' in Scotland that could inspire not just other projects around the country but the next generation of engineers and scientists


By Scott Maclennan

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An award winning hydro-electric scheme on the banks of the River Ness has finally been officially opened to the public by the politician leading Scotland’s charge to net zero who said it was a "stand-out" project in Scotland.

The Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson declared the award-winning project open at a ceremony attended by a dozen councillors, politicians and others.

The project has become a major success story for Highland Council as Hydro Ness fast became a firm favourite with locals both for its attractive design and for its functionality as it supplies Inverness leisure with clean green energy.

Hydro Ness scheme will massively help reduce the council's carbon footprint as the 93kW hydroelectric power twin turbines scheme will generate an estimated 550,000 kWh a year to supply about half of the nearby Inverness Leisure Centre's electricity.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero Michael Matheson – 'This is a stand-out'

Mr Matheson said: “This is a stand-out. This is a fantastic, small-scale hydro-electric project that has got a big impact because of the level of energy it is actually producing.

“What is important about that is that is helping Inverness to achieve its net zero status as a city but also contribute towards Scotland’s challenge of becoming a net zero nation by 2035.

“And the great thing about hydro-electric is that it is an old technology that we are using to help resolve one of the biggest challenges we face today and that is climate change.

“And that is why projects such as this are important in helping to contribute towards that but also in educating young people about the benefits we get from hydro-electric generation here in Inverness and in the rest of the country.

“We want to see more projects like this and there are already a range of small hydro-electric projects that have been proposed or are being developed in different parts of the country.

“But the one here in Inverness, however, is a very good example of how you can deploy this technology as the electricity from this is going straight in to benefit the local community.”

Chris Bell of SSE Renewables – 'Critical' to support young people

Chris Bell from SSE Renewables underlined the importance of that education component, which was significantly supported by the company to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

He said: “So in terms of STEM for SSE Renewables it is critical. It's really important for us to help to inspire the young people today, who may become the engineers and the key workers that we need for the future to help build more renewable energy projects.

“I think that projects like Hydro Ness can really provide a beacon to maybe a focal point for or a beacon for schools and to help with their education programs that inspire young people to consider a career in STEM.

“Whether that is working for SSE renewables or somewhere else in the industry, I think it’s critical to really provide tangible information to see what renewable energy can do. I think it’s really important that young people can see that and be inspired and think maybe I can play a part.”

Councillor Karl Rosie, chairman of the climate change committee

Councillor Karl Rosie, the chairman of Highland Council’s climate change committee said: “Hydro Ness is without doubt a flagship for sustainability and has reinforced how valuable an asset the River Ness is, especially when it comes to renewable generation.

“Not only does it look fantastic but very importantly, it is already helping to offset our reliance on grid supplied electricity and reducing our carbon footprint. This underlines our climate change ambitions as we work towards achieving net zero.

“As well as the eye-catching structure, an important element of Hydro Ness is the on-site interpretation. The messaging covers key topics such as how Hydro Ness works, the different ecology found around the River Ness, and our changing climate. All of which will help to create a new welcoming place for locals and visitors to spend time enjoying."

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