We aim to use the enormous amount of rain that falls on Ardtornish, over 90’’ a year, to produce energy in a way that doesn’t damage our environment. The rain fills our rivers and reservoirs, and the energy from the weight of water travelling under pressure down our pipelines (known as penstocks), turns specially designed turbines.
The turbines spin generators which produce electricity. The water returns to the river and from there flows to the sea. The electricity is sold to the national grid, providing Ardtornish with the income it requires to help do the things we need to do, and consumers with a supply of green, clean energy.
On the river Rannoch, we have replaced the earlier 1996 ‘run of river’ hydro scheme with a cascade system of two independent hydro schemes. The two furthest intakes divert additional water, via a low pressure aqueduct pipe into Loch Tearnait, which acts as a water storage reservoir. It is fed by both this new water intake, and the river and burns that flow into it naturally. The main Tearnait hydro intake feeds this water into the 1000m long penstock which creates a 60m head (i.e. 60m pressure of water) at the new Tearnait power house at the eastern edge of Strath Shuardail.
Having produced up to 700 kW of electricity in the Tearnait power house, the water returns to the river and fills the newly-created Lochan Lùb an Arbhair (translated from the Gaelic as the bend or meander around the corn field). This new loch was created by the 2012 Rannoch Dam – probably the largest thing to be built in Morvern since Ardtornish House in 1884. The water flows from dam down another penstock, generating a 69.5m head and up to 1500 kW of output at the Rannoch Power House.
In 2015 we completed another 800kW scheme, at Uileann in the White Glen. It catches water from three sources, but has no water storage capacity – so is known as a ‘run-of-river’ hydro. Like our others, it uses a turbine built by Gilkes of Kendal.
During 2016 we are building a fourth scheme – a low-head hydro, with an Archimedean screw turbine, at Achranich on the right back of the river Rannoch across from the main estate buildings.