Starting in 2006, Kingussie Community Development Company (KCDC) worked to re-establish a run of the river hydro scheme that provided power to St Vincent’s hospital during the 1920s. The new scheme was commissioned in February 2015 and is connected to the Kingussie Golf Club. Surplus electricity is exported to the grid. The income from the new scheme is used to support community projects and initiatives
The hydro is situated on the Gynack in Kingussie at a narrow gorge where there is a spectacular waterfall. Its output is about 40,000 kWh per year but this varies depending on summer droughts and winter freezes. The river is also prone to spates, and during construction in 2014, the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha caused significant flooding in Kingussie. The hydro survived.
Water is abstracted through a 9m wide Coanda screen mounted on a new weir cast against the 1920s weir. The screen prevents entry of sediment and fish. There is a bypass channel on the East side of the weir to ensure that there is always a flow of water down the river.
Water flowing through the screen is collected in a sump below it and then passes through a 10m long 750mm diameter concrete pipe to a settling chamber. This connected via a 20m long 600mm diameter underground plastic pipe to the turbine installed in the Turbine House. The difference in water levels between the the weir and the outlet from the turbine is about 4m.
The purpose of the settling chamber, is to remove turbulence and air that arises from the flow through the Coanda screen, thus allowing water to flow smoothly down to the turbine. It also allows any sediment that settles out to be collected and flushed out a side pipe back into the river.
The Turbine House is situated at a lower level at the side of the gorge.
The main components in the Turbine House are turbine (blue), the control panel (top right) and the generator (top left) As the water level in the river varies, the water in the settling chamber is controlled at a constant level by operation of the turbine vanes operated by the hydraulic ram in the foreground. All the electrical equipment is mounted above the potential river flood level.
In the Crossflow type of turbine the water flows over and under the inlet vanes which direct flow to ensure that water hits the rotor at the correct angle for maximum efficiency. The water flows over the upper rotor blades, turning the rotor, then through the centre and back across the lower rotor blades producing further turning force. Most of the power is extracted by the upper blades (roughly 75%) and the remainder by the lower blades. The turbine is installed 1.5m above the summer water level and there is a rectangular draft tube below it that discharges 0.7m below the river level. As it leaves the rotor, water fills the draft tube from just below the rotor all of the way down to the discharge water level. This column of water wants to ‘fall out’ of the draft tube thus creating a negative pressure inside the turbine cavity and increasing the effective head of water available. The total head available is 3.8m. The turbine drives a 15kW generator which is connected to the electricity grid via Kingussie Golf Club, 250m to the north of the site.
Electricity Generation Statistics
The story of the Kingussie Community Hydro is now available in a book published by KCDC. It can be purchased at the Caberfeidh Horizons bookshop in Kingussie or by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All profits from the sale will be used for the benefit of the community.
Kingussie Community Development Company gratefully acknowledges the contribution of these organisations to the projects carried out during 2014 and 2015:
Main Contractors and Suppliers: