The location some 1,000 ft above sea level, extreme weather and tight manufacturing timescales made Kinlochleven a challenging and exciting replacement project
Access and potential exposure to extreme weather events were two of the key challenges facing the customer and Glenfield Invicta on the Kinlochleven project. The penstocks themselves are located almost 1,000 feet above sea level and, during the original construction of the scheme almost 142mm (5.6 inches) of rain fell in one 24-hour period.
Given the location and weather the customer was keen for the work to be undertaken in one visit. This in itself was a challenge with the penstocks in three separate locations and a short manufacturing time from drawing approval to start on site. Compounding all of these hurdles was the Covid-19 lockdown. The project was awarded, manufactured and installed during national lockdown.
Hydropower: an international perspective
The UK has 4,700 MW of installed hydropower capacity; a massive amount of energy, when you consider that with just 1 MW, it is possible to power an average home for over a month. The vast majority of this capacity is located in North Wales and The Highlands of Scotland.
Interestingly, electricity was first generated from hydropower in Scotland in 1879, two years before the first public electricity generator.
To provide an international perspective, China has almost one hundred times more installed hydropower capacity than the UK. According to the International Hydropower Association, Denmark has only 9 MW, the smallest installed capacity of any major European country with the exception of Estonia.
Almost 100 years old and still in operation
Glenfield Invicta visited the site and discussed the challenges to be addressed. Glenfield Invicta had worked on the Kinlochleven in the past, and the current penstocks dating back to the 1930s were manufactured by Glenfield. This pedigree, reinforced by a rapid response and a scheme of works that required only one visit to site, led to Glenfield Invicta being awarded the works. The general arrangement (GA) drawings quickly followed, and customer approval enabled the manufacturing process to begin.
From manual to remote operation
The penstocks were manufactured from stainless steel and were fitted with electric actuators to enable remote operation; a major benefit compared to the manual operation of the legacy penstocks.