Community Micro-Hydro

Kilmachalmack burn Micro-Hydro scheme.


Before late 2015 the government offered substantial income to suppliers of small scale hydro electricity (This the Feed-in-Tariff Fit). With such a scheme would provide the Trust with an income as well as allowing the aspiration to produce electricity locally that could be used locally when appropriate.

In 2015 The Kyle of Development Trust were in a position to examine developing a micro hydro scheme on a local stream, this the Kilmachalmack burn about 13Km west of Bonar Bridge. This is a large stream with substantial amounts of water in it at all times of the year. But it is a remote location and although there are power lines close by they do not have the capacity to carry much electricity away. A company called ‘Scene’ did a feasibility study funded by CARES (Community Energy Scotland). This detailed study concluded that one of two schemes based on Kilmachalmack was preferred a 50KW or 95KW. Since the electricity grid is constrained (limited) the SSE (South of Scotland Electricity) would allow 50KW, to be put on the grid, but not more until later. There being an expectation, but not a certainty that the constraint would be lifted by 2020 and then 95KW export might be possible. The costing for this was detailed by ‘Scene’ with the 50KW scheme preferred. However this costing expected that the Fit would remain generous and this proved in 2015 to not be the case. With a considerable   reduction in this tariff it became difficult for the scheme to break into profit within a timely period and so the scheme needed moth-balled.

However the scheme becomes viable again if the Fit is re-visited by the government with rates similar to those pre 2015.

Throughout the time of this study a Scot grad intern, Calum Couston, oversaw the progress of this project and this was carried out in such a way that although the project did not come to fruition, it could not have been pursued by anyone with greater tenacity and skill than Calum achieved. Kyle of Sutherland Development Trust thank him for this.