Articles & Case Studies

Highland alliance of technical expertise delivers successful completion of hydro project

Posted: Wednesday 13th May 2009

Technical expertise in high volume water piping from an alliance of three Scottish Highland based companies has played a key role in the successful completion of a 1.3m hydro-electric project for a remote Inverness-shire estate.

Oban based companies Fusion Marine Ltd and Adrian Laycock Ltd, along with electrical engineer An Cuilionn of Stromeferry, Ross-shire, and civil contractor G S Campbell of Newtonmore, installed 1.8km of 500mm diameter polyethylene pipe for Coignafearn estate near Tomatin as part of a hydro-electric project to keep the estate supplied with heat and power.

The installation was made to replace the estate's dependence on oil for power generation and heating. The pipe links a new dam and reservoir high up on a mountain burn that then carries the water to an underground generating station lower down.

One of the key features of the work was the butt-fusion welding technique used by Fusion Marine to join the pipe sections. The process means that compared to more conventional steel piping, which consists of a series of joints, PE piping is effectively one continuous length of pipe where the joints are virtually seamless.

The use of PE pipe enabled cheap and rapid installation in a hostile mountain environment, using the technique of butt fusion jointing in a single accessible location, with the pipe being winched up the mountainside in strings up to 500m long. The final jointing between strings was achieved using electro-fusion couplings.

According to Stephen Divers, Fusion Marine managing director, PE large diameter piping offers several advantages over more traditional steel or GRP pipe.

"Polyethylene is flexible and light which means the course of the pipe can follow a given path and can bend and accommodate gradual changes in direction," he said.

"The versatility and durability of large diameter polyethylene is ideal for use in hydro schemes and other applications such as sewer outfalls," said Divers.

The hydro-electric project at Coignafearn is part of the estate's commitment to sustainability and protecting the natural environment. Designed by Adrian Laycock Ltd and An Cuilionn, the scheme breaks new ground in storing heat energy direct from the turbine, using ground-sourced heat pumps and deep boreholes into hard rock.

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