Perth-based Green Highland Renewables has begun construction work on three separate hydro schemes near Achnacarry in the Scottish Highlands, all linked by a six-mile long private grid network.
All three hydro schemes will be powered by Austrian Kössler turbines.
The three mutually supporting schemes are located on the north shore of Loch Arkaig, about 15 miles north of Fort William, and together total 2.5MW of generating capacity – enough to power nearly 2000 homes.
The projects, which are 750kW, 500kW and 1250kW, are being financed by Triple Point, the investment management group, which has now supported five Green Highland Renewables projects since 2010.
Richard Round, Chief Executive, Green Highland Renewables, said: “Loch Arkaig is quite remote with challenging topography and the cost to connect each scheme to the grid individually would have been prohibitive.
“However by linking them together with a dedicated private grid, which then ties into the local distribution network, we can make all the projects generate an economic return.
“This is an innovative and holistic approach we have already used successfully in a number of other developments, and as the hydro feed-in-tariff taper starts to bite, we will have to be innovative in how we build and finance schemes.”
The schemes will be constructed by MAM Contracting, a highly experienced civil contractor which has already worked with GHR. All three are due to complete in 2015.
Green Highland are also looking at two further projects in the immediate area, one of which will commence in 2015.
The Achnacarry, Bunarkaig and Clunes Community Group will receive a royalty payment in addition to a community benefit of £5000 per MW per annum.
Commenting on the project, community group chairman Richard Sidgwick said: “Green Highland Renewables has worked with the community from the outset and kept us fully informed of progress at all stages; any concerns that we might have had have been addressed quickly and effectively.
“We work with the estate on a variety of issues and are delighted that these projects are now a reality, and that the benefits of involvement in renewable energy will contribute to their business.”
Donald Cameron, owner of Achnacarry Estate, said: “Achnacarry Estate is delighted that construction on these three hydro schemes has now started – it represents the fruition of several years’ hard work by Green Highland Renewables. We are also grateful to the local ABC community group for their consistent support of these projects.”