City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Digital Project Will Showcase Scottish Norwegian Hydro-Electric Links


By edg - Posted on 15 May 2012

Kinlochleven Hydro

Engineering buffs, students, and those curious about how we tap energy from our rivers, will welcome a forthcoming joint project between Scotland and Norway to document the development of the hydro-industry.

The first Digitising Heritage project, it will providing an online archive, cataloguing individual hydro sites across the world and capturing archival planning and architectural documents, technical and site data as well as archive images and film footage.

The site being developed by Historic Scotland in partnership with the Norwegian Museum of Hydropower & Industry, will be officially launched later this year.

Norway and Scotland have a long history of collaboration in the hydro industry. The hydro scheme that powered Norway’s first aluminium smelter, at Stongfjorden, was developed by the British Aluminium Company, based on their experience of the Kinlochleven scheme (pictured) they completed in the Scottish Highlands in 1909. The North of Scotland Hydro Board, established following nationalisation in 1943, developed its plans building on technical developments pioneered in Norway.

First Minister Alex Salmond, who is undertaking trade and political engagements in Norway over two days, announced the Digitising Heritage initiative at an international renewable energy conference in Bergen yesterday.

Hydro-electric schemes brought power to many remote areas of Scotland for the first time from the 1940s. The First Minister pointed to the ways that Norway and Scotland have pioneered and shared engineering expertise.

“Technology developed by Scots - from the rock-fill gravity dam pioneered at Loch Trieg and James Williamson’ round arched buttress dams - were adopted for use in Norwegian schemes, whilst Scottish schemes were inspired by the technology developed to respond to the scale of developments undertaken in Norway," he said.

“Pumped storage technology developed at Ben Cruachan in the 1960s, was adapted and developed in Norway, which today has a huge storage capacity that can play an hugely significant role in the future European energy grid network – allowing, for example, excess power from Scotland, to be channelled to Norwegian hydro schemes for use at times of lower output from offshore renewables off our coast."

Salmond added: “Hydro continues to play an important role in Scotland, generating a record 5.3GWh last year – almost 40 per cent of Scotland's renewable electricity output in 2011 – and employing just over 500 people.”

Randi Bartvedt, director of the Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry sees the project as an extension of the museum's bid to become a UNESCO site in the future.

“We hope that other countries will follow and join us in the project of collecting information about historical hydropower site,” he said.

The Norwegian Museum of Hydropower and Industry is housed in the former Tysso I power located by Sørfjorden in Hardanger. The powerplant was the largest reservoir powerplant in 1908, in northern Europe.

David Fleetwood, who is leading the Digitsing Heritage project for Historic Scotland added:

“To many people the ground-breaking role played by both countries is a virtually unknown story, but the work of the initiative has shown how in many instances both nations were world leading pioneers in the development of the industry worldwide."