Autumn 2014

Highland power

New monitoring systems increase longevity of hydroelectric power plant.

Strainstall is helping Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) to extend the operating life of its Central Highlands hydroelectric power plant.

In August, a small team from Strainstall visited the plant to install a monitoring system to the main inlet valves (MIVs) on the generation turbines. These valves control the flow of water through the turbines and are subjected to huge forces as a result of the high pressures involved in holding back vast quantities of water.

The team fitted a bespoke strain gauge solution around each valves’ foundations and inlet-outlet pipes to monitor them. The gauges allow SSE to understand more clearly the strains the MIVs are experiencing so that their operational life can be accurately profiled and compared to their original design assumptions.

Simon Cross, Strainstall’s SSE works manager commented:

“This was an intense installation due mainly to awkward site conditions, but completed on time and to a high standard in order to provide SSE with important data, which, hopefully, will prolong the life of the power station for years.”

Part of the Affric-Beauly hydro scheme in the remote Central Highlands, the power plant consists of a 48m-high, 727m-long dam, plus a second smaller one. A tunnel connects the two lochs to the generating station which has three 22 megawatt (MW) turbines and one 7MW turbine with a generating capacity of 7,701 kilo-watt hours. The station is unmanned and is controlled from an operations centre in Perth with electricity being generated quickly during periods of high demand, or as a back-up to onshore wind generating capacity across the country.

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