Hydro Ness micro hydropower scheme officially opens in Scotland

29 July 2022

The 92kW Hydro Ness hydroelectric scheme located on the banks of the River Ness in the Scottish Highlands has been officially opened to the public.

The site was opened in a ceremony yesterday by the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Economy and Transport, Michael Matheson. Hydro Ness, which utilises historical infrastructure from a disused hydro scheme dating back to the 1920’s, is an Archimedes screw project generating electricity for the nearby valued community asset Inverness Leisure Centre. The flagship scheme is expected to generate over 500,000 kWh of renewable energy each year, resulting in both financial and carbon savings for Highland Council.

The site has also benefitted from the addition of high quality and completely bespoke interpretive content. The interpretive experience, designed by Mather & Co, will help articulate key messages relating to important topics including environment and ecology, renewable energy, and climate change and will be a welcome addition to a high footfall area of the city and will help strengthen the river as an attraction.

“The Hydro Ness is a perfect example of how small-scale hydroelectric schemes can deliver a big and lasting impact. The scheme is not only an important step in the journey for Inverness becoming carbon neutral, but also in supporting a fair and just energy transition which benefits everyone,” commented Matheson.

“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,” added Councillor Karl Rosie, Chair of The Highland Council’s Climate Change Committee “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.”

In addition, the site itself will act as a hub for STEM learning with resources for school classes developed by the Science Skills Academy. The SSA has also produced a number of educational animations which will enrich the learning experience on site.

As well as the SSA, Hydro Ness has worked in partnership with a number of organisations including High Life Highland, Visit Inverness Loch Ness, University of the Highlands and Islands, SSE Renewables, Highlands and Island Enterprise (HIE), Zero Waste Scotland and Salix Finance Ltd.

The opening comes after the news that the project has been short-listed for the Best Climate Action or Decarbonisation Initiative category of the APSE Service Awards 2022.

Hydro Ness is free to visit and open year-round 24 hours a day.

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