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SIMEC to Upgrade Key Highland Hydro Plant Thanks to Scottish Government Ruling

SIMEC investment to bring more than 40% more clean power boost for local Scottish industry

SIMEC, part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, has welcomed an amendment to Scottish legislation which will unlock a significant investment programme to upgrade Kinlochleven Hydro power station, allowing it to generate even more clean power for local Scottish industry.

SIMEC is one of the first power generation businesses to commit to new investment following the amendment to the Renewable Obligation order. The ruling amends the legislation, which will allow the Kinlochleven plant to produce more than the 19.5 Megawatts (MW) of power for which it’s accredited.

When the Kinlochleven hydro station entered the Renewable Obligation in 2002, work was undertaken to restrict the station output so that it couldn’t generate more than 19.5MW in order to comply with Renewable Order legislation in force at that time.

The Scottish Renewable Obligation amendment means the power station can now be upgraded so its maximum capacity increases from 19.5 MW to up to 27.5 MW. But as the company only receives support for generation up to 19.5 MW, the extra renewable energy unlocked by the upgrade will be produced without subsidy and therefore at no extra cost to the consumer.

The upgrade is central to the GFG Alliance’s vision to further develop the Lochaber estate lands for the benefit of the regional economy and communities. Alongside the Glenshero wind farm project and river hydro schemes, the enhancement and expansion of existing hydro-power production will deliver the additional low-carbon power GFG needs to support its own industrial growth in the highlands as well as supporting the wider economy and new local businesses.

The result is entirely consistent with the Scottish Government’s policy intent of using “any and all means to encourage additional renewable electricity generation [to] help us progress towards our 50% ‘all energy’ target, especially where those can be achieved at no additional costs to consumers.”

The upgrade works will include substantial refurbishments to the infrastructure that collects and controls water flows in-between the Blackwater reservoir and the powerhouse, alongside modifications to the turbines themselves.

Jay Hambro, chief executive of SIMEC Energy and Chief Investment Officer of the GFG Alliance said: “With one amendment to the energy legislation the Scottish Government has effectively allowed our significant investments at Kinlochleven to proceed. Our plans to bring the plant back to full capacity are all part of our broader objective to bring more value to the Highlands through the use of more locally generated power. We will generate over forty percent more clean green power at no cost to the consumer.

“The development of Kinlochleven and the investment that goes along with it will unlock additional local jobs and benefits to the local economy during the construction phase and secure more economic growth by powering local industries going forward. We applaud Scottish Government’s amendment to the Renewables Obligation and we are grateful to the First Minister and to Minister for Energy, Paul Wheelhouse and his team for their work and vision in making this a reality.”

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands said: “The scale of the climate challenge faced by the global community means it is vital that we support investment in renewable electricity generation capacity. So, I am pleased to have taken forward the legislative amendment, with Parliament’s support, to make it possible for operators of hydro generating stations to increase their renewable capacity and production and I am delighted that SIMEC are already signalling they are keen to take up this opportunity.

“I look forward to seeing the proposed development of the Kinlochleven plant, and to seeing the expected, associated economic and environmental benefits come to fruition.”

Further information from Eoghan Mortell 07977 555116/ Jonathan Levy 07718 494 214

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