Making old hydro new
Completed in 1933, the Tummel Bridge power station operated for almost 90 years before the owners, SSE Renewables (SSER), commissioned us in 2018 to investigate replanting and replacing the turbines and generation units—some of the largest camel back generation units in the world.
During the three-year-long review process, we developed a deep understanding of the powerhouse structure—a Category A listed building with special architectural or historical interest. By developing a 3D model of the substructure, we could analyse the turbine’s arrangement, its interface with the rock, and how the hydraulic thrust could be restrained without disturbing more of the site than was strictly necessary. Multiple options and arrangements were considered at the technical concept level and integrated input from both SSER and the supply chain, including early engagement with a turbine supplier.
The final design, including contract specifications, split the replanting works into two phases. The design incorporates the placement of concrete within the power station as a thrust block, enabling the full load from the turbines to be taken by the foundations and reducing reliance on the original 1930s steel penstocks, which are being retained.
Construction commenced in April 2022, and when works are complete, the upgraded, updated power station will have an increased installed capacity from 34 megawatts to 40 megawatts. The resulting clean power and preserved structure will contribute to Scotland’s net zero targets and support the local community with reliable hydropower.
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