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Construction Starts on Aberchalder Hydro Project

23rd February 2015

Gilkes Energy is pleased to announce that construction of the 0.5MW Aberchalder Hydro project has started.

Aberchalder Hydro is located on the Easter Aberchalder Estate, at the south west end Loch Ness.

The project is a classic high-head design incorporating two intakes, a high-pressure pipeline and a Gilkes Twin-Jet Pelton turbine in a purpose built powerhouse.

The project was developed to the point of achieving planning permission and the necessary permits by RWE Innogy and further developed to a "construction ready" stage by Gilkes Energy in December 2014. After a detailed tendering and procurement exercise the project has now formally achieved 'Financial Close' and the civil construction team are now fully mobilized. The scheme is planned to be operational by December 2015.

The hydro project secured funding from Downing Renewables - a specialist fund manager focussed on renewable energy project development. Gilkes Energy is engaged in the lead engineer role, providing design, project management and construction supervision services during the construction phase, as well as managing the operation and maintenance of the facility thereafter.

Commenting on the project, David Tomb of Gilkes Energy said: "Thanks to everyone who has worked on getting the project to this stage. We made a start on the ground just before Christmas on early access and enabling works, including starting the new bridge. This 'early' start was important as we need to deliver the project well before a FiTs deadline in December 2015. The main civil contractor on this project is MAM Contracting Ltd, the same contractor we used on the recent Neaty Hydro project. It is important to use civil contractors with experience of building hydro projects and of working under tight timescales. The project will support approximately 15 full-time jobs at a very local level, for the duration of the construction period, along with a permanent part-time local 'caretaker' role once operational. Additionally, the project is being designed and project-managed from the Gilkes Energy Glasgow office, and so supports an additional 7-8 highly skilled jobs. Finally, maintenance and routine servicing will be provided to the project by the Gilkes Service Centres in Invergordon and Fort William.

Commenting on the project, David Freeder of Downing's Renewables team said: "We are very pleased to have reached Financial Close on this project, our fifth project with Gilkes Energy. Hydro projects have a positive impact at a very local level providing jobs to the local Community, whilst also contributing towards 2020 energy targets. The relatively quick timescales of the Financial Close process are important as hydro projects come under time pressure from Feed-In-Tariff degression. We look forward to funding this project and working with the Gilkes Energy team to bring the facility to fruition."

Click here for more information on the project.