It’s getting on for 18 months since we last reported on this project. Things have been progressing slowly – but just not very visibly. We have had a number of set-backs with grid connections and finance deals, but now things are looking more hopeful.
Last year in May, we received a new grid connection offer. This is a very rare item in the Western Isles. All proposed large turbine schemes are on hold until the new undersea cable is installed to the mainland. You’ll have seen from the local press that this is still not confirmed. The latest estimate is 2019. Anyway, we received the offer for a 150kW turbine and immediately accepted it and paid the deposit. With planning already in the bag, all that was remaining was the finance.
In December 2013 we were introduced to Sustainable Technology Investors Limited by a community group on Mull. They are keen to help develop small scale hydro schemes. Since the start of the year, STIL has reviewed the design and have signed a Heads of Terms agreement with the Trust to start the wheels moving. Engineering Consultancy AECOM has been engaged. They have started the detailed design works and are liaising with Ross-shire Engineering and their civil engineering partner to firm up pricing for the turbine and the civil works. At the moment, the team is aiming to get all the in-river work complete before the wet season starts in 2014. The Turbine itself is on a 35 week lead time – so commissioning of the scheme will not be before summer 2015.
Now that the detailed design work is nearly complete, the critical thing is for SEPA to approve the designs. We await final approval from the crofters in the area, but once this has been done, we can get on and build something. We’re now in the sixth year of this project; let’s hope no more spanners get thrown in the works.