Only opened (by the Queen) back in June, the new £140 million Glendoe hydro electric scheme near Loch Ness will now be out of action until 2010, and not early on in the year either.
A rock fall which occurred near the top of one of the tunnels during August has been described as "very substantial", and closing the tunnel, which carries water from the reservoir to the turbines.
Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) said: "SSE is now working with its principal contractor and others to determine how best to effect the necessary repairs and achieve a resumption of electricity generation at the site, but this will not take place until well into 2010 at the earliest."
I hope the folk that are responsible for planning the great "Renewables Revolution" are looking on and taking note, as they close down nuclear and coal with no substantial replacements yet planned, and are mocking the advisors that are warning of blackouts come 2016.
They shut down the tunnels to the BA at Fort William around 1952 whilst they cleared out rockfalls. There is an old film taken by one of the BA staff on his home cine camera showing the work - just about all by hand of course. Fascinating film - Elf and Safety, what's that?
I'm not surprised, after reading the earlier stories, which I thought seemed to be playing down the total extent of the damage caused by the original rockfall.
Mother Nature's a vicious b*%$h when she decided to have a poke at you
It wouldn't be the first time a massive project was wiped out (or nearly wiped out) because of an apparently trivial natural event, but which had a major implication for the project.
Take the news this morning, where a volcanic eruption in Iceland send up a dust cloud that shuts down all air operations in Scotland (except SAR), and much of England. International law calls for all aircraft to be grounded under this circumstance, and they can see the dust cloud and chart its progress by satellite and radar, and can't afford for jets flying at altitude to ingest the dust.
They found wee Mrs McGonagle in one of the airport lounges, and got her on camera for the best quote of the day: "They say it's an Act of God, so there's no luncheon vouchers"
Until someone maybe starts talking, we won't know the motivation.
As the fall occurred only eight months after work was completed, there is an aspect of what I will refer to only broadly as warranty, whereby the contractor could be required to rectify substandard work. However, if there is evidence that they carried out diligent surveys, and there was no reason to expect the fall, then you fall into the aspect of insurance to pay for rectification. If the contractor was not diligent, then that's another matter of course.
That said, the contract could define periods of responsibility in the event of some failure, and it would then up to the courts to decide if the fall was foreseeable, or if the survey has been lacking.
What's rather more unfortunate is some rather poor reporting by The Herald, which has clearly sought to rake up completely unrelated events regarding the contractor, and presented them in their report as if they had some bearing on the matter of a rockfall at Glendoe.
Why they had to go on at length about Health and Safety, and how 'holy' SSE is in this respect is completely irrelevant, as is their reference to such thins as an SSE requirement to hold banisters when negotiating stairs, as if it was something clever and unique to SSE.
It's standard HSE advice, written into many company and organisational procedures, and something that you will be told to do if you visit something like a Shell installation, where even as visitor you will be expected to always keep one hand free for just such an occasion, and get a lecture if you don't.
Anyway, it will be very interesting to see if/how this develops now that the courts have been mentioned (it may just be a ploy), and also to see if The Herald has further bias in its reporting if it carries on.
The longer tunnel for the Lochaber hydro-electric scheme opened in the early 1930s and lasted until the early 1950s when it was closed for a couple of weeks to clear rockfalls. But it was built by a British company.
Resurrect Albert Speer and point him at the Glendoe scheme.
During World War II, and the endless bombing campaigns of the Allies - British by day and American by night - he managed to not only maintain, but increase Germany's armament production. And I have just watched a documentary that showed how the giant Krupps factory (and the company for that matter) was all but brought to its knees and wiped out after once concentrated series of raids intended to destroy it.
Don't take the question too seriously or literally - it is only intended to be a light-hearted reflection, Speer was able to diversify locations, and relocate entire facilities, often going underground.
It is still worth thinking about, as there were also many instances reported where apparently successful raids (which we will assume were not just propaganda successes, but tallied with German records) that knocked out factories were found to have them back in operation within weeks, if not days, albeit at reduced capacity.
Glendoe appears to have had its problems on site, and gives me an opportunity to remind readers of the valuable and necessary work of what I now refer to as the 'real' Health and Safety Executive (HSE) - which is quite separate, serious, and distinct from the Elfin Safety which provides us with both comical and sad moments as the Jobsworth types use (or rather abuse) the phrase 'For Health & Safety Reasons' to impose their own peculiar interpretations of the rules on the rest of us.
Real Health and Safety inspectors deal with bodies and bits of people, while the Jobsworth's use the rules as an excuse to get their way, and have probably never even met a real HSE inspector or official.
A company has been fined £266,000 over a contractor's death during the construction of the Glendoe hydro-electric scheme near Fort Augustus.
Ondrej Hladick, 46, died when he was crushed by part of the equipment he was using at the site on 22 September 2008.
Hochtief Construction AG has been fined £266,000 at Inverness Sheriff Court, the Crown Office said.
The fine was reduced from £400,000 due to the company's guilty plea to a breach of health and safety.
The court heard that the telehandler, a forklift type vehicle, Czech Mr Hladick was driving was in extremely poor condition.
It was believed the workman, from Prague, was leaning out of a large missing window and was crushed by the machine's telescopic boom as he lowered it.
Following the conviction, Elaine Taylor, head of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service health and safety division, said the company should not have had equipment in poor condition on the site.
She added: "Hochtief Construction AG exposed them to a significant risk to their health and safety.
"Sadly, for Mr Hladik and his family, that risk materialised in the loss of his life.
"Mr Hladik's death was entirely avoidable had Hochtief complied with health and safety legislation." 'Tragic incident'
Health and Safety Executive inspector John Shelton said the telehandler involved was the most poorly maintained construction vehicle of its type he had seen in more 30 years service.
He said: "It should never have been allowed near any construction site.
I'm having a problem seeing how the fact that the company that constructed Glendoe was German has anything to do with a rockfall putting Glendoe out of action. It's racist and being carried on just a bit too long.
I suspect if a team of ginger-headed Scottish kilties had hacked the tunnel out with pick-axes, sledgehammers, and their bare hands it would have been just as blocked if the same rock fall had taken place. And taken at least as long to fix.
Details of the planned return to operation of the plant in 2012 were
A JINXED £160m hydro electric scheme opened by the Queen will finally generate power next year. In August 2009, a rock fall closed a tunnel carrying water from a hilltop reservoir to a massive turbine on the Glendoe project near Loch Ness.
Scottish & Southern Energy said the fall was "very substantial" but the plant would be running again in the first half of 2012.
A new 985-yard tunnel has just been built to bypass the damaged section, meaning that the scheme will run on time.
The site was officially opened by the Queen in June 2009 - weeks later it was hit by the rock fall. When it generates to its maximum level for 24 hours it can produce 100 megawatts - enough electricity to power about 250,000 homes.
The power station is the first large-scale conventional hydro electric station built in the UK since 1957, when the Errochty station in Perthshire was opened.
Glendoe was completed in autumn 2008 and the first electricity was produced in December the same year before trouble hit.
Although it's been seen as an item of derision by some, I wonder if anyone as actually taken the time to either find out about, or study the events and circumstances that led to the Glendoe scheme being put out of action?
Reading the latest news about its return to service - refilling of reservoirs is planned for the winter, with generation coming on line early next year (2012) - suggests that two tunnels have had to be drilled to bypass a blocked one, and that the tail race required repair.
This would not only have required the repeat of tunnelling work, but it would have to have been made through a less optimal route than the original, and presumably also been longer. There may have been further complications due to hard/soft ground that the original had been positioned to avoid.
On top of that - somebody (and I don't know if the bill for this extra work falls on the contractor, or if suitable insurance was in place to cover such an extreme contingency) has to foot the bill for the works, as it has taken more than a day or two, so there will be a considerable tab being accumulated for time/materials/labour. And there may even be penalties accruing on a daily basis for the loss of operation of the plant since the day it stopped production.
Still, even if 'progressing well' does not run into any problems, the promise of resumption of generation in the first half of 2012 still means this thread could have another nine months to run
'Progressing well' might actually be happening. Even the weather is being relatively kind - compared to last year!
I had a hunt around for Glendoe info since the media seems to have forgotten about it, or is not bothering with any feeds to alert anyone watching.
And I got lucky as info had been noted by the company last week, and even mentions the matter of who will foot the bill - as I mentoned last post ...
Return of generation
07 Feb 2012
Work on the restoration of electricity generation at Glendoe is continuing to progress well. The process of re-filling the reservoir should begin in the spring and electricity generation should resume in the middle of 2012. In the meantime, we continue to pursue our legal and insurance options following the loss of electricity generation at Glendoe in August 2009.
I got diverted by some other business a few weeks ago, when some updates appeared for the Glendoe restart.
However, the delay doesn't really make much difference, since any progress is largely in Mother Nature's hands...
"Work on the restoration of electricity generation at Glendoe is continuing to progress well. The process of re-filling the reservoir should begin in the spring and electricity generation should resume in the middle of 2012. In the meantime, we continue to pursue our legal and insurance options following the loss of electricity generation at Glendoe in August 2009."
This is the last official update, and no further info has been published.
They have either all been drowned in the recent rain... or they are still dry up there, and we have had all the wet stiff down here, in the Central area.
In the meantime, I thought this news from a little earlier in the month might make a handy comparison...
"Yesterday, after 19 years of construction, China's controversial Three Gorges Dam became fully operational with the opening of the last of its 32 turbine generators. The generators have a combined capacity of 22.5 million kilowatts, according to the company running the dam, The China Yangtze Power Company."
(For reference, 'yesterday' was June 4, 2012.)
22.5 million kilowatts - I wonder what that is in 'real money'?
Flip the suffixes around a little, and you get 22.5 thousand megawatts, so...
It's really 22.5 GW in 'proper' units.
Or 22,500 MW if you never managed to get to grips with gigawatts
That's 225 Glendoes, since Glendoe is rated at 100 MW.
Gives you an idea of the Three Gorges scale, able to swallow one of Scotland's 225 times over.
I always wonder what consumption figure the various power companies used when the the state how many homes a scheme will supply.
SSE have printed this one in black & white on their 'About Glendoe' page, so here it is for handy reference (useful for comparison against other sources in future):
Once the site is back up and running it will have the capacity to power 53,000 homes. Based on a household consumption of 3,300 kWh a year.
A 100MW hydro electric scheme near Loch Ness has resumed operations after a three-year interruption caused by a rock fall.
SSE, which trades as Scottish Hydro north of the border, said Glendoe was already producing about three gigawatt hours of electricity for the network.
The £140m plant was officially opened by the Queen in June 2009.
But operations were later suspended after a rock fall in a tunnel carrying water to the facility from a reservoir.
Paul Smith, managing director of generation for SSE, said: "The work to restore electricity generation at Glendoe has been undertaken in a very rigorous way to make sure that this strategic asset meets its original design criteria and is ready to play its full part in supporting the country's electricity system for many decades to come.
"We will continue to monitor closely the performance of Glendoe to make sure that the reconstruction work has been fully successful, ensuring sustainable generation at the site, similar to that achieved at our other schemes such as Sloy on Loch Lomond which is still generating power more than 60 years after being commissioned."
SSE said Glendoe was able to start generating electricity at full capacity in just 30 seconds.
In a year of average rainfall, its output should be around 180GWh of electricity.