• Category: Renewables
  • Energy type: Hydro
  • Project type: Asset

The eastern slope of the Western Highlands are drained by the main tributaries of the River Beauly and the area's hydro electric potential was recognised before 1920. A resource development plan was approved in 1947 for the Affric-Cannich section.

The principal works were a 48m dam at Loch Mullardoch on the River Cannich, a 5km tunnel to Loch Benevean on the River Affric, a smaller dam at Loch Benevean and another tunnel to the main generating station at Fasnakyle in Strathglass.

The area is very remote and road construction and subsequent hydo electric plant operation were designed to preserve scenic and natural resources.

  • Part of the Affric Beauly hydro scheme
  • Located near Cannich, Highlands
  • 76.5MW capacity

More information

Power from the Glens

Scottish Hydro Electric, then known as the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board and now part of SSE, was established by an Act of Parliament in 1943.

It was to be responsible for generating, transmitting, distributing and supplying electricity throughout the north of Scotland, including the Highlands and Islands. This covers about 25% of the total land area of Britain but just 3% of the population. The region contains Britain’s highest mountains and largest inland lochs which, combined with high rainfall, make hydro electricity viable.

Hydro electricity is produced using the power of running water to turn the turbines of generating sets in power stations. The technology dates back to the late 19th Century when the first privately owned hydro electric power stations were built to power the aluminium smelting industry and to provide local electricity supplies. But it took the vision of one man, Tom Johnston, the Secretary of State for Scotland in Churchill's wartime coalition government, to bring power from the glens for the benefit of all. At the time, it was estimated that just one farm in six, and one croft in a hundred, had electricity. Today, virtually every home in Scotland has mains electricity.

Today, hydro electricity, together with wind farms and emerging technologies such as wave and tidal power, is helping the country meet its commitment to provide increasing amounts of energy from renewable sources. A major refurbishment programme of Scottish Hydro Electric’s hydro stations has ensured these wonderful assets can produce clean electricity for the nation for decades to come.

This booklet is dedicated to the memory of the ‘Hydro Boys’ whose legacy is the largest source of renewable energy in the country.