By Isabella Kaminski
The 5 MW hydropower project at Loch Eilde Mor, near Kinlochleven in Scotland, is expected to generate enough renewable energy to power around 2,400 homes and to create around a dozen jobs during construction.
The application was submitted to the Scottish Government by consultancy firm Hydroplan on behalf of Rio Tinto Alcan.
The Scottish Government has also approved a refurbishment of the existing Innerhadden hydropower project near Kinloch Rannoch in Perth and Kinross, which will see the installation of two new weirs with self-cleaning screens to reduce blocking. This will allow the project to generate energy to its expected capacity of 1.4 MW.
Fergus Ewing, Scotland's Energy Minister, says: "I have carefully considered the application for development at Loch Eilde Mor and this is a good scheme which will provide a new green energy source and sustainable economic benefits – an excellent example of using our natural assets in harmony with the environment.
"The Scottish Government's target is to meet the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020 and every new hydro scheme is another step towards realising that goal."
Scotland currently has around 7 GW of renewable energy capacity installed, under construction or consented, which the Government estimates will exceed the 2011 target of 31% of electricity generated from renewables. The Scottish Government's Energy Consents and Deployment Unit is currently processing 33 applications: 24 onshore wind, four hydropower and five thermal energy projects.