Highlands hydro project pushes STEM learning

image by Claire Maclean

The £2.5m River Ness Hydro energy project, which is part-funded by the Scottish government through Salix Finance, will be built at a site on the River Ness, near Whin Park in Inverness.

As part of the development, Highland Council is working with the Science Skills Academy (SSA) to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) projects through the addition of interactive screens and educational content.

The planning application for the project was submitted in 2018.

Councillor Trish Roberston
Councillor Trish Roberston

Councillor Trish Roberston, chair of Highland Council’s Climate Change Working Group said: “I am thrilled this project is going ahead. We see this as a flagship project that will hopefully inspire and encourage young people of Highland to learn more about STEM subjects and the importance of renewable technologies. Not only that, the design will serve as an attraction for locals and visitors, while saving the organisation money and carbon. It is another example of strong partnership working between Highland Council and our valued partners such as Salix and the Science Skills Academy.”

The project is set to save up to 1,420 tonnes of CO2 per annum, which will help to meet climate and ecological emergency targets.

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The scheme will provide 50% of the energy demand for the nearby Inverness Leisure Centre, which is currently one of the highest energy consuming buildings in the Highlands.

The SSA is a partnership project led by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and with £3m from the Scottish government. The funding is part of the £315 million Inverness and Highlands City Region Deal, which is funded by the Scottish and UK governments and regional partners.

Emma Robertson, Science Skills Academy project manager at said: “This is an innovative project that provides an excellent opportunity for young people, their families and other members of the public to learn about renewable energy generation while demonstrating career opportunities and pathways. This fascinating piece of engineering uses proven technology and will inspire young scientists and engineers of the future.”

The project will operate for at least 65 years and is being implemented as part of the council’s wider ambition to create long-term, positive change to the city and region, whilst leading the way in low carbon generation in Inverness.

The hydroelectric turbine is set to complete in spring 2022.

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