All the latest from Gilkes
The 2MW project is located on the Ardverikie Estate near Loch Laggan in the central Highlands of Scotland.
The project is a classic medium-head, high-flow design incorporating a dam and single intake, high-pressure pipeline and a high-efficiency Francis turbine in a purpose built powerhouse.
The project was developed to the point of achieving planning permission and the necessary permits by RWE Innogy and further developed to a "construction ready" stage by Gilkes Energy during 2015 and 2016. After a detailed tendering and procurement exercise the project construction is now well underway and progressing well. The scheme is planned to be operational by August 2017. The photograph on the right shows the dam construction in progress.
Commenting on the project, Carl Crompton of Gilkes Energy said: "Thanks to everyone who has worked on bringing this ambitious project to fruition. The project will support approximately 30 full-time jobs at a very local level, for the duration of the construction period, along with 7-8 highly skilled engineering and project management jobs, all based in Scotland. Once operational the project will employ a permanent part-time local 'caretaker' and maintenance and routine servicing will be provided to the projects by the Gilkes Service Centres in Invergordon and Fort William.
The project is one of the largest to date developed by Gilkes Energy. It has a long (6.5km) pipeline, but drops a relatively short vertical distance of 150m (the "Head" of the scheme). This means that the flow rate is high for its power output and large-diameter high-flow pipes (up to 1.7m in diameter) are required. Much of the cost of the project is in the dam and the pipeline so a significant 'value-engineering' exercise had to take place in order to make the project economics sufficiently robust for our investors to give the project the 'green-light' to commence construction. All hydro projects have different engineering and construction challenges. One of the main challenges of this project is to ensure that approximately 500 large-diameter, glass reinforced plastic 'GRP' pipes are placed with almost millimeter precision over a distance of 6.5km over a mix of different ground conditions.
This project brings the total capital deployed in Gilkes Energy projects to more than £80m which is clearly a significant milestone. Bringing a project of this size to fruition takes years of effort. We need to manage the diverse interests of the statutory bodies, local stakeholders, landowners and investors. Additionally we have to work to very tight timescales due to deadlines imposed by the structure of the Feed In Tariff.
The professional team we have put together at Gilkes Energy includes engineers, project managers and finance specialists, all focused on one thing - delivering quality hydro projects. Unlike other developers and consultants we offer a 'one stop shop' of capital and delivery ie investment and the expert design and project management services to realise that investment. All our projects to date have been delivered on time and budget, and provided it keeps raining, should deliver their target return on investment.
Hydro project assets last for a very long time, typically longer than 60 years, so have to be engineered with that timeframe in mind. Each project we deliver makes a small step towards our national renewable energy targets, and because the assets last for such a long time, our projects keep contributing to the fight against climate change year on year, long after the diggers have left site."