The Anonymous Widower

Glendoe Hydro Power Station

When I think of hydro-electric power stations in the UK, I generally, think that most of the hydro-electric power stations were built years ago by organisations like the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board. These power stations were one of the staples of the Meccano Magazine, of which I was a long-term subscriber in the 1950s.

But Glendoe hydro-electric power station is relatively new having been opened in 2009. At only 100 MW, the power-station may not be large in comparison to others around the world, but it does show what can be built in the Highlands of Scotland.

This Google Map shows the layout of the power station.


  1. The red arrow indicates the location of Glencoe power station, which is underground.
  2. To the North of the power station, is the Southern end of Loch Ness.
  3. In the South-Eastern corner of the map there is the lake from which the power station draws its water.
  4. The dam is at the Western end of the lake.

According to this article on Power Technology, the project cost £160 million.

This extract from a page on the SSE Renewables web site, describes the layout of the tunnels and the operation of the power station.

Engineers began planning the Glendoe project as far back as October 2001. Formal construction work at the site started over four years later, in January 2006. It involved constructing a 960 metre-wide dam on the River Tarff to create a new reservoir some 600 metres above the power station, giving it the greatest head of any hydro electric power station in the UK.

An 8.6 kilometre tunnel connects the reservoir to the power station that is built 250 metres below ground level, about two kilometres from the banks of Loch Ness. Although some of the tunnel was created using traditional drill and blast techniques that would have been familiar to the Tunnel Tigers of the last century, much of its length was bored out using a massive tunnelling machine named Eliza Jane by local schoolchildren.

The SSE page also describes the working and living conditions of those who built the scheme.

Most lived in specially constructed camps high in the hills above Loch Ness, braving brutal weather conditions in winter, and the fearsome Scottish midges in the summer.

The SSE page also gives the main use of the power station.

Today, the main operating feature of Glendoe is its ability to react quickly to changing demand for electricity, being able to reach full output in just 90 seconds.

So when there is an important football or rugby match on the television, it is ideal to supply the surge of electricity, when everybody puts on the kettle at half time.

Could This Power Station Have A Pumped Storage System Added?


  • There is a large lake six hundred metres above the power station.
  • Loch Ness is a large source of water at the bottom of the mountain.
  • Every tonne or cubic metre of water pumped into the upper lake would store 1.63 kWh of electricity.
  • The world’s and the UK’s tunneling engineers are getting better and more ambitious.
  • When this power station was built in the early years of this century, there wasn’t the large amount of wind turbines in Scotland, that there are now.

I suspect, it’s an idea that’s been looked at, but the costs or the distance to pump the water might kill it.

If a second project was the same size as the first, it would cost £210 million based on inflation.


  •  It wouldn’t need another dam or a substation to connect to the National Grid.
  • There would probably be a need for extra excavation at the power station to put in the pumps.
  • I suspect it would need an extra tunnel to get the water uphill.
  • One tunneling engineer told me, as with sex, digging a second tunnel is easier.

The main benefit, would be that it would be hidden infrastructure.

As to the energy storage capacity, I estimate from maps that the top reservoir at Glendoe is about half the size of Loch Mohr at Foyers power station, but the head is 600 metres as against 197 metres. As Foyers can store 10 GWh, it looks to me, that Glendoe could store around 15 GWh.

Also, as Glendoe power station was designed and built after the successful conversion of Foyers to a pumped storage station, I wouldn’t be surprised to find that Glendoe was designed, so that the station could be converted to pumped storage at a later date.


This scheme will be seriously looked at for extension with a pumped storage facility.


February 12, 2022 - Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , ,


  1. Just seeing your post reminded me of a Highlands Counc

    Comment by fammorris | February 12, 2022 | Reply

  2. […] analysis in Glendoe Hydro Power Station, led me to conclude, that engineers will look at this scheme built in the early years of this […]

    Pingback by Scotland’s Energy Storage « The Anonymous Widower | March 2, 2022 | Reply

  3. […] Glendoe Hydro Power Station, I wrote about the Glendoe Hydro […]

    Pingback by Loch Kemp Pumped Hydro « The Anonymous Widower | March 21, 2022 | Reply

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