The £50 million repowering project by SSE Renewables at the Tummel Bridge hydropower station in Scotland has taken a major step forward with the successful installation and commissioning of the first of two new hydropower turbines.

The project will boost the station’s output capacity from 34 to 40MW once complete. The original twin ‘Camel Back’ turbines from 1933 are being replaced with modern, more efficient technology that will extend the plant’s working life by at least 40 years.

Significant investment in hydropower for a sustainable future

“This is one of the largest investments we’ve made to our existing hydro fleet in recent times. This project demonstrates our ongoing commitment to invest in hydro power, so we’re proud to reach such a significant milestone in the Tummel Bridge Power Station replant,” said Neil Lannen, SSE Renewables’ Director of Hydro Asset Management.

Lannen added, “Hydro power has a vital role to play in our path to achieving net zero carbon emissions in the UK by 2050, and this investment will ensure Tummel Bridge continues to play a crucial role in Scotland’s energy mix for generations to come. The project is a perfect example of extending the working life of a station which has successfully generated clean, green energy for around 90 years.”

Improved efficiency and increased energy output

The new turbine units significantly improve efficiency by extracting more energy from the available water flow compared to the original equipment. The first turbine is now operational, with the second expected to come online by mid-summer 2024 after commissioning.

Collaboration with industry partners

SSE partnered with leading firms for the complex project, including principal contractor Global Infrastructure, civil designer Stantec, and turbine manufacturer Voith. The investment has supported Scotland’s supply chain and local jobs.

“This project was a complex design with a lot of interface management between different supply chains. We hope this is the first of many projects we will deliver with SSE over the next 5 years,” said David Macdonald, Global Infrastructure’s Managing Director.

Craig Scott, Stantec’s Director of Hydropower and Dams, highlighted the project’s importance: “Successfully rehabilitating such an iconic, listed power station demonstrates a viable future for extending hydro infrastructure life and is a shining example of how Scotland’s hydropower design industry is at the forefront of the low-carbon agenda. The complex works carried out at Tummel can help spur the whole industry on to deliver proposed new-build hydro facilities and nurture future infrastructure design talent.”