By Kristy Dorsey

One of Scotland’s oldest hydro plants is set for a £50 million overhaul that will extend its operational life by 40 years while also boosting capacity.

SSE Renewables said work on the Tummel Bridge in the Highlands will begin in the spring, with refurbishment to be completed in time for the plant’s 90th anniversary in 2023. The works programme is expected to support up to 65 construction jobs at its peak.

Located in the overall Tummel Valley Hydro Scheme cascade, the power station currently delivers approximately 140 GWh of renewable generation annually. Under the repowering programme, two existing “Camel Back” turbines will be replaced by modern runner technology.

READ MORE: Perth-based energy giant in £1.2bn deal with Canadian investors

The resulting increase in water flow will boost generation from 34 to 38MW, with a peak output of 40MW during optimum conditions.

“Hydro power is Scotland’s original source of renewable energy and one which has an increasingly vital role to play in our path to achieving net zero carbon emissions in Scotland by 2045 and the UK by 2050,” SSE head of hydro Peter Diver said. “By replacing the existing turbines at Tummel Bridge with modern, efficient plant, we will be able to safely extend the operational life of the station by at least 40 years, meaning Tummel Bridge will be part of our future net-zero power system.”

SSE said this will be the single largest investment by its renewables division in its existing hydro fleet in recent times. In addition to generating its own power, the station plays a strategic role in efficiently moving water onwards to the Clunie and Pitlochry power stations as part of the overall hydro-electric scheme.

READ MORE: SSE plans move into Polish market with Spanish energy firm

Along with the repowering of existing schemes, SSE Renewables is also working on development of the 1.5GW Coire Glas pumped storage project in Scotland’s Great Glen, which would be the first large-scale pumped storage scheme to be developed in the UK for more than 30 years.

“A mix of renewable energy technologies will be needed if we are to meet our climate change targets, as well as smart systems to manage the way power is generated, transported and used,” Scottish Renewables chief executive Claire Mack said.

“Hydro, which provides almost a fifth of Scotland’s clean electricity, is an increasingly important part of that energy mix, providing as it does the flexibility to generate when power is most needed.”