Following a number of months work by Highland Eco Design, we finally have confirmation that a micro hydro-electric scheme on the river at Maraig is feasible. Since Maraig and Rhenigedale were connected to mains water, the local treatment works at Maraig has stopped extracting water from the river. This gives the Trust the opportunity to take water for hydro-electricity.
The Highland Eco team have come up with a scheme that fits a number of constraints – the biggest being the national grid. As most people will be aware, there is a freeze on all large-scale renewable energy projects in the Western Isles. All such projects hinge on the undersea cable being installed to Ullapool. Whilst there is no firm date for this, we have to limit ourselves to micro-generation schemes that are under the 50kW limit. Despite the Maraig river being capable of powering a much larger turbine, we now have details of a 50kW scheme that could be extended when the under-sea cable is commissioned. This comprises a small weir and intake next to the Rhenigedale turn below the old water treatment works and a turbine house down near the shore on the Eilean Anabaich side of the footbridge.
We submitted a screening request to the council (13/00615) in December. This will give us an idea of what environmental survey work we have to carry out before we can submit a full planning application. As at Bunavoneader, we think we will have to carry out a fish survey and an otter survey. These can’t be completed until early summer when the water levels drop.
In the mean time we have an application pending to help fund the remaining feasibility work required to confirm viability and allow us to submit applications for Planning, Grid Connection and SEPA Licence.
The work to date has been funded by the Outer Hebrides Community Energy Fund and its managers: