Remote working for SSE

Stor Lochs penstocks and power houseBuilt in the early 50s, Storr Lochs is a hydropower plant near Portree on the Isle of Skye with an installed capacity of 2.4MW.

Scottish and Southern Energy now plan to modernise the facility and have engaged KGAL to project manage the scheme on their behalf. The project will require a combination of new, replacement and refurbished components to extend the life of the plant by up to 50 years.

The challenges are made more difficult by the remoteness of the site; there are no roads to the power house, the only means of access being via a funicular railway, the path of which runs parallel to the lower run of the two penstocks.  These take water from the dam to the power house over a vertical drop of 180m. One penstock, however, needs internal blasting and repainting to prevent corrosion but, to maximise safety, we will be designing new stoplogs and refurbishing the headgear for the sluice gates. 

Another task is the removal of existing bonneted isolation valves. Each, almost indestructible and weighing about 6.5 tonnes, will require a temporary, custom designed and portable lifting gantry which, in turn, may require its own lightweight temporary lifting gantry to erect. 

Back at the power house the existing turbines will be decommissioned and new units provided along with new governors, generators and associated transformers and switchgear.

KGAL’s project manager Mike Willis said “This is a very complicated project where, because of the location, the logistics­ the sequence in which the contractors undertake the work and the corresponding outage­ will be as critical to the project’s success as our mechanical, electrical and hydraulic solutions themselves.”

They’re issues with which the client is well aware. Mike adds “Fortunately, the outage work will be conducted in the summer when daylight will be at a maximum, but other than that, the weather will be against us; nevertheless SSE understand the climatology, the frequent wet winds and the low temperatures; they’ve been entirely realistic about the timescales and their expectations.”

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