Hydropower uses the flow of water from Scotland's rivers and lochs to drive turbines to generate electricity.
Hydropower is the original renewable energy source, with early schemes capturing water flow for mechanical energy, and later for generating electricity. The Power from the Glens campaign in the 1940s and 50s gave Scotland a reliable, large scale and green electricity supply.
Scotland currently has 1.4GW of hydropower, with room for growth, especially for small and medium schemes. So called “micro-hydro” was identified as having huge potential in Scotland and has further benefitted from the introduction of the Feed-in Tariff, a financial incentive for installing small scale renewables projects.
Types of Scheme
Run-of-river schemes use the natural flow the river to generate electricity, the output is directly linked to the natural flow and volume of the water in the river.
Storage schemes use a weir or dam to collect water in a reservoir to allow generation when the river is running low. Some storage schemes can run for days without rain, others only a couple of hours. This is an important tool for the electricity to matching electricity supply to demand.
Pump storage schemes also include a reservoir but are not considered a renewable form of generation as they use electricity to pump water into an elevated reservoir during periods of low demand. This water can then be released during periods of peak consumption, acting like a big battery.
Scottish Renewables engage proactively with government, authorities, industry and the public to promote an environment that maximises responsible hydro development and operation in Scotland. We are working to tackle the cumulative impact of regulation while ensuring that the industry is well supported through appropriate market reform and incentives.