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Who says electricity and water don’t mix?

Category : News

Hydro, as a clean and renewable energy source, shows sustainable power generation in action.

We were delighted to host members of the Retail Energy Forum on 11 June 2019 at Pitlochry Dam and really appreciate the interest shown in our generation fleet. Our visitors were able to see renewable energy in full flow and witness real-time hydropower generation at SSE’s 15MW facility on the Tummel river in Perthshire.

One of SSE’s 64 hydro plants (including pumped storage), the power station built into Pitlochry Dam has a total catchment area of 1,839sq km. The dam has a long and distinguished legacy in the Pitlochry area and we are proud that hydroelectricity historically improved the lives of so many people living in the north of Scotland.

While we can quote facts and figures, seeing hydropower in action is genuinely impressive.

It’s important SSE Business Energy takes every opportunity to show decision makers what a great job hydro is doing and that it’s not a resource we should ever take for granted. My thanks to Andy Hay, Hydro Operations Manager for SSE who provided valuable insight, knowledge and expertise on the day.

Pitlochry Dam tour

Renewable, clean energy

Hydro’s renewable and clean credentials set it apart from other low-carbon energy sources like nuclear, biomass and so on. We can harness the power of running water again and again to produce sustainable electricity, by turning the turbines of generating sets in power stations.

SSE’s hydro generation operations used 24,238 million m3 water in 2018/19 which was returned to the environment almost immediately. By the time water reaches Pitlochry, it may have already generated electricity at three or four other power stations during its course down the Tummel Valley.

Hydro is viable in the UK thanks to Scotland’s unique landscape and our infamous weather! The Highlands contain some of Britain’s highest mountains and largest inland lochs, combined with some of the highest rainfall in Europe. SSE has 1,150MW conventional hydro capacity in Britain which generated 3,318 GWH electricity in 2018/19.

SSE’s transmission network is playing a key role in decarbonising Britain’s energy system by transporting new renewable energy from the north to the places of demand in the south. That network has grown significantly since 2008 and the energy it transmits is now almost entirely from renewable sources. In 2018/19, around 1 GW of new renewable generation capacity was connected, bringing the total to over 6GW, up from around 3.4GW in 2013.

Pitlochry Dam tour

Past, present and future

Loch Faskally owes its origin entirely to the construction of Pitlochry Dam, and the major landscape changes were controversial. But what was once feared as a threat to tourism now actually attracts visitors. The dam at Pitlochry is visited each year by over 133,000 people from all over the world, and that now includes members of the Retail Energy Forum.

Every year, Pitlochry’s two turbines meet the energy needs of some 15,000 homes. It started generating back in 1950. Scottish Hydro Electric, then known as the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board and now part of SSE, was established by an Act of Parliament in 1943.

Something to ponder is: would we see investment on such a scale today?

Hydroelectricity, together with wind farms and emerging technologies such as wave and tidal power, is helping the country meet its commitment to provide increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources.

SSE currently has the largest renewable energy capacity across the UK and Ireland at around 4GW. SSE’s output from renewable sources increased in 2018/19 to 9.8TWh from 9.4TWh the year before, meaning SSE achieved its highest ever output from onshore wind, offshore wind and hydro assets across the UK and Ireland.

River Tummel

Sustainability at the heart of SSE

SSE’s low-carbon ambitions put sustainability at the very heart of the company’s vision, purpose and strategy. That’s why this year’s Sustainability Report gives the most comprehensive analysis to date of the material impacts SSE has on the world around it.

SSE has set stretching new targets for 2030 in a bid to tackle climate change and support global goals for sustainable development. The four objectives include cutting carbon intensity by 50% and trebling renewable energy output.

They underpin SSE’s strategic focus on long-term, low-carbon and sustainable assets, and commit SSE to delivering its strategy in a way that creates value for shareholders and for society. Reflecting the importance of meeting these goals to the company, in March 2019 SSE’s Remuneration Committee agreed to align a proportion of executive remuneration from 2019/20 onwards to the achievement of those goals. SSE has also appointed its first Chief Sustainability Officer, one of only a small number of FTSE 100 firms to do so.

It’s in all our interests to support the continuing growth of green energy. This at the heart of SSE’s purpose, to provide energy needed today and strive for a better world of energy for tomorrow.


Gary Stalker

National Account Manager

Having worked in the energy industry for almost 20 years, Gary Stalker is National Account Manager for SSE Business Energy. He helps businesses of all sizes achieve their unique goals and unlock value from their energy contracts.

This includes action on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, through SSE Green 100% renewable energy contracts, energy saving and carbon reduction. Gary also provides clear, simple advice on regulation and compliance in an ever-changing policy landscape.

Gary looks at ways businesses can profit from energy assets through flexibility, too. His expertise covers renewable investment strategies, adjusting usage to help balance grid demand, and trading on the energy markets.
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