The Anonymous Widower

Loch Kemp Pumped Hydro

Loch Kemp Is a smaller loch just to the East of Loch Ness.

This Google Map shows Loch Kemp in relation to Loch Ness.


  1. Loch Ness is in the North West corner of the map, with partial cloud cover.
  2. Loch Kemp is in the South East corner of the map.

The proposed Loch Kemp pumped hydro scheme will have these characteristics.

  • Loch Kemp will be the upper reservoir.
  • Loch Ness will be the lower reservoir.
  • The power station will be on the banks of Loch Ness.
  • The power station will be designed to fit into the environment.
  • Eight dams will be built to enlarge Loch Kemp.
  • Trees will be planted.
  • Output of the power station will be 300 MW
  • Available storage could be 9 GWh.

The station will have almost as much storage capacity as Electric Mountain, but that power station has an output of 1.8 GW.

In Glendoe Hydro Power Station, I wrote about the Glendoe Hydro Scheme.

  • It is a 100 MW hydroelectric power station
  • It has the highest head at 600 metres of any power station in the UK.
  • It opened in 2009, making it one of the newest hydroelectric power stations in the UK.
  • The actual power station is in an underground cavern.
  • The dam and power station have been designed to be hidden from view.

This Google Map shows the location of Glendoe power station to the South of Loch Kemp.


  1. The red arrow indicates Loch Kemp.
  2. The loch in the South East corner is the reservoir that feeds Glendoe power station.
  3. Fort Augustus is at the Southern end of Loch Ness.

This Google Map shows the Northern end of Loch Ness.


  1. The red arrow indicates Loch Kemp.
  2. Foyers, which is a short distance to the North West, is the site of the Foyers pumped hydro scheme. I wrote about this scheme in The Development Of The Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme.
  3. Loch Duntelchaig, in the North-East corner of the map, is being used as the upper reservoir of the Red John pumped hydro scheme. I wrote about this project in Red John Pumped Storage Hydro Project.

On the East side of Loch Ness there seems to be four substantial hydro-electric schemes.

In order from South to North these schemes are.


Glendoe is a modern 100 MW hydroelectric power station, that opened in 2009.

In Glendoe Hydro Power Station, I felt it might be possible to expand Glendoe into a pumped hydro scheme, with upwards of 10 GWh of storage.

Loch Kemp

Loch Kemp is a proposed 300 MW/9 GWh pumped hydro storage station.


Foyers is an existing 300 MW/10 GWh pumped hydro storage station.

Red John

Red John is a proposed 450 MW/2.8 GWh pumped hydro storage station, which has received planning permission.

These four power stations could be summarised as follows.

  • Glendoe – 100 MW/10 GWh
  • Loch Kemp – 300 MW/9 GWh
  • Foyers – 300 MW/10 GWh
  • Red John – 450 MW/2.8 GWh


  1. Totals are 1150 MW and 31.8 GWh
  2. Foyers was converted from a conventional hydroelectric power station, that was opened in 1895  to a pumped hydro storage station.
  3. If Foyers can be converted, why can’t Glendoe.

A very large pumped storage station of four separate units, can be built on the East side of Loch Ness.


This is only on the East side of Loch Ness, so if the West side can be similarly developed, Loch Ness could be developed into a real Loch Ness monster with over 60 GWh of pumped hydro storage.


March 21, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Possible Balmacaan Pumped Storage System

This article on Power Technology is entitled SSE Proposes Loch Ness Hydro Power Plant.

These are the first three paragraphs.

Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) has begun consultations to develop a 600MW hydro electric power plant on the shores of Loch Ness in Scotland.

SSE proposes to build a pumped storage scheme on the Balmacaan Estate between Invermoriston and Drumnadrochit.

The plan also includes construction of a dam and a new reservoir at Loch nam Breac Dearga, north-east of Invermoriston, according to

This Google Map shows the location of Loch nam Breac Darga.


  1. Loch Ness runs diagonally across the map.
  2. Invermoriston is in the South-West corner of the map.
  3. Loch nam Breac Darga is marked by the red arrow and is 452 metres above sea level.
  4. Drumnadrochit is at the North of the map, just to the West of Urquhart Castle.
  5. The Foyers Pumped Hydro scheme, which I wrote about in The Development Of The Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme is on the opposite bank of Loch Ness from Loch nam Breac Darga.

This could be Scotland’s largest hydro-electric plant.

I can’t find a value for the amount of energy that can be stored, but I suspect it could be in the order of 15-20 GWh.

The stories about this project seem to be thin on the ground, so could it be that this project has been placed on the back burner by SSE.

February 19, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Development Of The Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme

This leaflet from SSE Renewables probably gives as good a record as any others about the development of the Foyers Pumped Storage Scheme.

This is the introduction.

The Foyers Scheme is a 300 Megawatt (MW) combined conventional hydro and pumped storage scheme. 1896 saw the British Aluminium Company commission Foyers for the smelting of aluminium. The plant was in continuous operation for 70 years until it’s closure in 1967. The scheme was promoted by NOSHEB in February 1968 and after receiving statutory approval in April 1969 work started that autumn and was commissioned in 1975 . The high level reservoir is Loch Mhor which was formed under the original development by enlarging and joining Loch Garth and Loch Farraline.

The full catchment area of Loch Mhòr today is now 207 sq km.

Note that NOSHEB stands for North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board.

This Google Map shows Loch Mhòr.


  1. Loch Ness is in the North West corner of the map.
  2. Loch Mhòr is the loch running diagonally across the map.
  3. Loch Mhòr was originally two separate lochs; Loch Garth in the South-West and Loch Farraline in the North-East.
  4. The power station is on the shores of Loch Ness.

I have found a document on the Internet, that says that the current storage capacity of Loch Mhòr is 10 GWh. That figure, if it is correct, would make the Foyers pumped storage scheme a small amount bigger than Electric Mountain.

The Original Scheme

The original scheme appears to have been a straight hydro-electric scheme with the water running from Loch Mhòr into Loch Ness through turbines. I don’t know how big it was and if anybody does, the figure needs to be inserted in this post. So if you know it, please tell me!

This gazetteer gives the figure at 3750 kW and also this history.

The British Aluminum Company development at Foyers was the first large-scale use of hydropower in Scotland. The scheme was highly influential, proving not only the viability of the technology to produce electricity with water driven turbines, but also that the power could be successfully applied to industrial processes. The British Aluminum Company went on to develop two large smelters in Scotland at Kinlochleven and Lochaber.

The original scheme generated electricity for seventy years.

The Current Scheme

There are effectively two parts of the current scheme, which was created in the early 1970s.

  • The original 3.7 MW turbines have been replaced by a 5 MW turbine in the old power station.
  • A new separate pumped storage power station has been built with two 150 MW pump/turbines.

This paragraph from the leaflet from SSE Renewables, gives brief details of the engineering.

When the station is generating, water flows from Loch Mhor through 2 miles of tunnels and shafts to the power station. When pumping, energy is drawn from the main transmission system at times of low load to drive the two 150 megawatt machines in the reverse direction and pump water from Loch Ness up to Loch Mhor. The existing gravity dam at the outlet of Loch Mhor (231.7m long and 9.14m high) was retained by NOSHEB . Remedial work was carried out on subsidiary earth embankment dams. The waters of the River Fechlin are diverted into Loch Mhor by a tunnel and the channel of the river.

From the complete description in the leaflet, it looks to be sound engineering.

Did Modern Project Management Enable This Scheme?

As someone, who was involved in writing project management software from about 1972, I do wonder if the arrival of ,odern project management around the mid-1960s was one of factors that prompted NOSHEB to carry out this scheme.

Other factors would have been.

  • The original turbines were on their last legs after seventy years of generating electricity.
  • There was a need for more pumped storage.
  • This scheme was feasible.

I would very much like to meet one of the engineers and talk the scheme through.


This power station and its rebuilding as a pumped storage scheme has been carried out to an excellent standard and I wonder if similar techniques can be used to create new pumped storage systems around the world.

February 15, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , | 7 Comments

A Brief History Of Scottish Hydropower

The title of this post, is the same as that of this page on the Drax Group web site.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Over the last century, Scottish hydro power has played a major part in the country’s energy make up. While today it might trail behind wind, solar and biomass as a source of renewable electricity in Great Britain, it played a vital role in connecting vast swathes of rural Scotland to the power grid – some of which had no electricity as late as the 1960s. And all by making use of two plentiful Scottish resources: water and mountains.

These are some points from the page.

  • The first scheme was built in the last years of the nineteenth century and provided power for aluminium smelting.
  • The first modern scheme was the Lanark Hydro Electric Scheme, which was built in the 1920s and is still running today, under the ownership of Drax Group.
  • In 1935, the Galloway scheme, set the tone for later projects with architecture including stylised dams and modernist turbine halls.
  • The North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board was founded in 1943.
  • Sloy, the largest conventional hydro-electric station opened in 1950 and has a capacity of 152.5 MW.
  • Building the dams and power stations appears to have been hard but well-paid work.
  • By the mid Sixties, the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board had built 54 main power stations and 78 dams. Northern Scotland was now 90% connected to the national grid.
  • In 1965, the world’s then largest reversible pumped storage power station opened at Cruachan.
  • In 2009, the last major scheme at Glendoe opened.

The schemes are a working catalogue of everything you can do with water to generate and store electricity.

Future development now seems to be moving in two directions.

The Drax page says this about new hydro-electric schemes.

In recent years, however, the real growth has been in smaller hydro-electric schemes that may power just one or a handful of properties – with more than 100 MW of such generation capacity installed in the Highlands since 2006.

On the other hand, several large pumped storage schemes are under development.


These schemes add up to an output of just over 4 GW and a colossal 92.3 GWh of storage.

The existing Foyers scheme and the under-development Coire Glas and Red John schemes. all use Loch Ness as the lower reservoir.

Two of these under-development schemes will be larger than the current largest pumped storage system in the world; Bath County Pumped Storage Station in Virginia in the United States, which is a 3 GW/24 GWh system.


Adding large numbers of wind turbines and tens of GWs to Scotland’s existing pumped storage could transform not just Scotland’s but most of Western Europe’s green energy production.


February 14, 2022 Posted by | Energy, Energy Storage | , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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 | , , , , , | 3 Comments