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5th March 2019 -  The Hollow Mountain

The President welcomed members to the meeting on the 5th March and introduced guest speaker Jim Peters, whose talk was “The Hollow Mountain”.  The hollow mountain is the power station at Cruachan on the banks of Loch Awe, the only pumped storage power station in Scotland and one of four in the UK.  As an engineer, Jim spent many years as a subcontractor working at and improving the station.  The total capacity of the station is 440MW for 20 hours; this being generated by allowing water to flow from the dammed loch in the mountains above through pipes to the generators buried about 400 meters below the surface.  The water then exits into Loch Awe.  At night excess electricity is imported to pump water from Loch Awe up to the mountain loch, thus allowing the cycle to recommence the following day. The station was opened in 1965 and was an entirely new concept.  Since then it has undergone continuous improvement, especially to the control systems and today its efficiency is around 80%, taking the water catchment effect into consideration.  Of the overall output around 20% is planned or traded, 50% is grid balancing and 30% is spinning reserve.  Jim also showed a video and also discussed the operation of the station in terms of its construction.  It was a most interesting and informative talk. Euan Douglas gave the vote of thanks.  The next club meeting is on the 10th March, the talk being “A railwayman’s guide to the railways”.

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