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Back Environment The News Successful completion of hydro projects in Scottish Highlands underlines versatility of HDPE piping

Successful completion of hydro projects in Scottish Highlands underlines versatility of HDPE piping

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The versatility of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) piping for hydroelectric power generation schemes is being increasingly recognised by estate owners in the Scottish Highlands following the successful completion of three projects.

Fusion Marine Ltd, the Oban based high volume water piping specialist, working with consulting engineer Adrian Laycock Ltd, have installed plastic piping for three hydro projects in Argyll at Glencreran, Barguillean and Achnacree. Several other local contractors were also involved and played a crucial role in the successful completion of the projects.

At Glencreran, 900m of 500mm diameter piping was installed for a 100kw scheme for Glencreran Estate. Another 100 kw scheme was successfully completed for Barguillean Hydro Ltd following the installation of 2,000m of HDPE piping of varying diameter. For both projects the pipes had to be airlifted into place by helicopter due to site inaccessibility. The final 100 kw project at Achnacree for Achnacreebeg Energy Ltd involved 900m of 500mm diameter piping connected to an existing dam, which also involved the construction of a complex pipe bridge and rock trenching.

One of the key features for all the projects is the butt-fusion welding technique used by Fusion Marine to join the pipe sections. The process means that compared to traditional steel piping, which consists of a series of joints, HDPE piping is effectively one continuous length of pipe where the joints are practically seamless due to the electro-fusion couplings. HDPE piping is also flexible and light, enabling the pipe to follow contours without the need for creating expensive socket joins.

Stephen Divers, managing director of Fusion Marine, said: “The use of HDPE pipe enables rapid and cost effective installation in hostile mountain environments, making it an ideal solution. With soaring energy costs, small-scale hydro schemes are becoming increasingly popular in the Scottish Highlands.”

Adrian Laycock, consulting engineer, said: “HDPE pipe has revolutionised the construction of small hydropower schemes in the Highlands, where the construction period is restricted to a few months in the summer in terrain which is inaccessible at other times.”