Generation project: Atholl Estate Hydropower Schemes
Location: Pitlochry, Scotland
Product/Participation: Fixed PPA
Customer since: 2012
“The five hydropower schemes constructed across Atholl Estate, not only help power Blair Castle, which is a popular tourist destination, but provide a vital revenue stream to help with the day-to-day upkeep of the vast 145,000 acre Estate. During construction, we were careful to respect local communities and wildlife, which meant adapting routes to protect otter families and efforts to reduce visual impacts. Now during operation, we continue to refine our energy management of the five schemes.” – Andrew Bruce Wootton, Chief Executive
Atholl Estate is one of Scotland’s best-known highland Estates, situated a couple of hours north of Glasgow, extending across 145,000 acres. Its forward-looking plans span all facets of the Estate’s operations including land management, farming, forestry, moorland management, property maintenance, property development and energy.
In its drive to adopt renewable energy production, it has developed run-of-river and loch storage hydropower schemes across the Estate. Its ideal positioning with naturally occurring lochs and rivers across the Estate, coupled with the abundance of rainfall and snowmelt after the winter months, provides a continuous flow of water and ability to refine energy management techniques to maximise the return on investment and ensure a reliable revenue stream for the future.
The construction of the five hydropower schemes provides Atholl Estate with up to 2.5MW of generation capacity, which is enough to power a small town.
Notably, the Blair Castle hydropower scheme meets the energy demand of the castle’s operations and is able to provide any surplus renewable energy to the grid. With an interesting history, the original scheme was constructed in 1908 to bring light to the castle and local businesses, but it was decommissioned in the 1950s when the national grid established local energy infrastructure to cater for this need. In 2014, to address the sizable energy costs of running the castle, the Estate the repurposed old infrastructure and re-commissioned the 89kW hydropower scheme.
Three of the schemes, Dowally, Broom and Bruar, benefit from controlled loch storage flow management, which increases output by ~20% and can take the efficiency of the schemes to over 60%. This is significant, as it means the three loch storage schemes are able to operate at peak output for over 60% of the time.
In addition to refining the energy management of the five schemes and considering flexible market participation, the operations team are also turning their attention to manging heating and energy efficiency initiatives across the Estate. Catering to growing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), Atholl Estate will also install EV charging points for visitors at Blair Castle and the adjacent campground.