If you go down to the River Ness today, you won’t believe your eyes. The new River Ness Hydro project is underway and this unique structure is quite the talking point in Inverness.
Situated on the banks of the Ness this unique dome structure will generate 550,000 kWh p.a. It uses Archimedes Screws to harness the energy of the water flowing down the waterway. Not only is it a new hydroelectric generator, but also an interactive visitor experience. The power generated will supply the nearby Inverness Leisure Centre with approximately 50% of their electricity use. Which, incidentally, is one of the highest energy consuming buildings across the Highland Council estate.
This beautifully looking building was designed by a very talented local artist Claire Maclean. Claire was inspired not only by the river and the plants and creatures that call it home but also by the mythology surrounding the nearby Loch Ness and its very famous monster. The project has now been renamed ‘Hydro Ness’! The Council set a competition for local schools to rebrand the clunky moniker ‘River Ness Hydro’ into something more palatable.
The Highland Council has declared a Climate and Ecological emergency and has set a tough goal of net-zero by 2025. To achieve this, the River Ness Hydro scheme will help reduce the organisation’s carbon footprint and further the use of renewable energy. A 93kW hydroelectric power twin turbine project is partially funded through the Council’s Recycling Fund.
The £7m Recycling Fund (RF) aims to increase long-term investment in energy-efficient technologies across the public sector by enabling clients to reinvest savings from previous projects to finance further energy reduction schemes. The loan fund is ring-fenced for investment in projects that will reduce the Council’s energy spend and carbon emissions. The River Ness Hydro is one of many energy efficient projects across Highland benefiting from this investment.
Hydro Ness – The future
Hydro Ness will hopefully attract many visitors to the area. Along with the other ongoing projects such as the redevelopment of Inverness Castle into a tourist destination. As well as more established Inverness attractions like the nearby Botanic Gardens and Inverness Leisure. The facility not only hopes to provide energy to the area but also provide an interactive experience for all ages and promote the use of renewable energy and STEM learning in Highlands.
It will provide a learning hub for climate change, local ecology, engineering, and renewables – something that should be applauded to encourage the next generation of green energy workers.