Barr River Community Hydro Scheme
Development and construction of a 1.6MW community hydro scheme

Barr River Community Hydro Scheme
Barr River Community Hydro Scheme

The Morvern Community Development Company had been exploring the potential for a community owned hydro scheme since 2013. In 2018, Glen Hydro were asked to review the progress to date and to recommend a way forward for the candidate schemes that had been identified. Since then, we have refined the design of a 1.6MW scheme on the Barr River; subsequently obtaining consents, completing the detailed design, procurement and construction.

The scheme is fairly complex and covers a wide area in a remote location. It comprises three large intakes, ten small intakes, 3.5 km of pipeline and a 4 km cable to connect to the grid.

Glen Hydro modified the scheme layout that had been proposed by the initial consultants, increasing the catchment area of the scheme and modifying the grid connection arrangement to increase revenue and reduce cost.

Gross head 143m
Maximum abstraction 1550 l/s
Rated power 1600 kW
Intakes 3 x ‘Large’ Coanda intakes 10 x small pre-fabricated intakes
Pipeline 900m twin wall low pressure pipe 2700m HPPE, 450, 630, 800 and 900mm, 900m 800mm Ductile Iron
Turbine CINK vertical axis 5 jet Pelton
Status Commissioned July 2021

The scheme was consented in time for the March 2019 Feed in Tariff deadline. The community chose to raise project finance themselves from Triodos Bank and the Scottish Enterprise Energy Investment Fund. The process of concluding the financial and legal arrangements required significant support from Glen Hydro and was completed in June 2020. Glen Hydro had been progressing the detailed design and procurement in parallel with this so construction was able to start almost immediately after financial close.

The construction continued throughout 2020 and completed in August 2021, with the turbine being commissioned in July 2021. The project was delivered significantly below the budget that was agreed with the community which has enabled them to repay some of the most expensive debt sooner than expected, increasing the financial return to the community. The scheme was commissioned within one month of the date that Glen Hydro forecast in December 2019, despite the Covid pandemic in 2020 and financial close being three months later than planned.

Barr River turbine and generator
Barr River turbine and generator

Throughout the project Glen Hydro provided a comprehensive project management service to the community. At the outset of the project a budget and programme were agreed, including contingency on both that was allocated to Glen Hydro and client. This allowed Glen Hydro to manage the project within their agreed contingency limit, reducing the amount of consultation required with the client whilst giving them confidence that the project was being adequately controlled. The client retained their own significant financial contingency to avoid the need to raise additional finance mid-project, by prudently managing the project Glen Hydro were able to ensure that this additional contingency was not required.

The project was delivered via four main contracts for civil works, pipeline supply, turbine and generator supply and electrical works. The grid connection delivery was very badly managed by the DNO which required a significant amount of intervention by Glen Hydro to ensure that wayleaves were concluded and that critical long lead items were ordered in sufficient time.