Scotlandís hydro potential

Posted: Wednesday 3rd March 2010

Scotland's hydro potential is nearly double the amount previously estimated, according to a study published recently.

An update on a 2008 study on Scotland's hydro resources now estimates there could be 1.2 Gigawatts of potential new hydro capacity in 7,043 schemes. This compares to 657 Megawatts (MW) according to the 2008 study.

The study has taken account of micro-hydro schemes under 100 kilowatts (kW) and has factored in payments to supply electricity to the grid.

New hydro schemes must be sustainable and the Scottish Government has today published a short policy statement on its support for hydro while protecting the water environment.

Energy Minister Jim Mather said:

"There is a clear untapped potential for smaller, community hydro schemes which can create green energy and tackle climate change.

"While large scale renewable energy development is helping drive economic recovery, there could also be substantial economic and social benefit from micro-hydro schemes. Today's report identifies the welcome potential for hundreds of new jobs in hydro power in manufacturing, installation and distribution.

"In optimising that potential, care must be taken to avoid adverse impacts on our water environment. Our policy statement published today supports this approach and SEPA is developing guidance to help the sector prevent such impacts.

"While every new scheme must be assessed on its own merits, if we can tap into new hydro power we can tackle climate change and continue to stimulate sustainable economic growth."

A 100 kilowatt scheme operating with an average annual output would generate enough electricity to power over 50 homes every year.

The increase in site numbers compared to the 2008 study is largely in the sub-100 kW range due to the favourable tariff for micro-hydro generation.

A report published in September 2008 estimated the commercially viable potential hydro resource of hydro in Scotland to be 657 MW. The revised financially viable resource is estimated at 1,204 MW of potential installed capacity, across 7,043 schemes.

SEPA will be developing guidance to facilitate the appropriate siting and authorisation of sub 100 kW schemes which will be available in Spring.

Forestry Commission Scotland is maximising its contribution to generating clean, renewable energy. There is potential from the national forest estate to produce 50 MW and the Commission is currently discussing development potential with a number of interested parties.

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