Construction is due to start shortly on a new 1.7MW hydroelectric project in Perthshire, Gilkes Energy has announced.

The Bruar hydroelectric project is located on the Atholl Estate, not far from Pitlochry, Perthshire, and is being developed by Gilkes Energy in partnership with the Estate Owners, the Troughton family.

The medium-head project includes a single intake, high-pressure pipeline and twin Francis turbines. It will use an existing dam for water storage.

"The project is interesting in a number of ways," explained David Tomb of Gilkes Energy. "Technically we had to work out how to use the existing dam structure without compromising its integrity; economically we had to work hard to make the project ‘work’. The scheme has a high flow rate relative to others of this size and requires over 4 km of large diameter pipe. We therefore had to carefully crunch the numbers and make sure the project could be built within budget. We’re really looking forward to now just ‘getting stuck in’ and a big thank-you to all those who have worked so hard on the project so far."

Funding for the project has been provided by Downing Renewables – a specialist fund manager focused on renewable energy project development.

"We are very pleased to have reached financial close on this project," said Ed Simpson of Downing Renewables. "The relatively fast financial close process is proof that our model is a viable alternative to ‘traditional’ project finance or secured lending – an important factor at the moment as hydro projects come under time pressure from Feed-In-Tariff degression. We at Downing are really looking forward to working with the Gilkes Energy team and the Atholl Estate to bring this project to fruition as we look to continue to make investments into renewable projects across the UK."

The project is the fourth hydro project Gilkes and Atholl Estate have worked on together, and is a major long-term investment for the Estate and its future.

"Atholl Estates is delighted to see the start of this project," commented the estates Jamie Troughton. "We have been working with the Gilkes Energy team on this project for a number of years and it is exciting to finally see ‘diggers on the ground’."

Construction is expected to begin by mid March, with the scheme planned to be operational by January 2015.


Photo: Inaugural ‘turf cutting’ ceremony at Bruar hydroelectric project, Perthshire (Credit: Gilkes Energy)