The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board (1943–1990) was founded to design, construct and manage hydroelectricity projects in the Highlands of Scotland. It is regarded as one of the major achievements of Scottish politician Thomas Johnston, who chaired the board from 1945 to 1959.
|Industry||Electricity generation and supply|
|Founder||Act of Parliament: Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act 1943|
|Successor||North of Scotland Electricity plc|
|North of Scotland|
|Thomas Johnston (Chairman)|
|7073 GWh (1989)|
|Services||Generation and supply of electricity|
|£15.741 million (1988)|
|Total assets||Electricity generating stations and transmission system|
|Owner||UK Government (Secretary of State for Scotland)|
Number of employees
|Divisions||Distribution areas (see text)|
In the 1930s several schemes were proposed to develop hydro-electric power in the north of Scotland. These met with opposition by landowners, sporting interest and the coal mining industry on the grounds of competition. The wartime Secretary of State for Scotland Tom Johnston established a committee chaired by Lord Cooper to inquire into hydro-electric power. The 1942 report recommended the establishment of a North of Scotland Hydro-electric Board to initiate and develop schemes. The necessary legal powers were obtained by the Hydro-electric Development (Scotland) Act 1943.
The headquarters of the board were in Rothesay Terrace, Edinburgh (outside the board's operating area). The 1943 Act specified the management board was to comprise a chairman and not less than four and not more than eight members. All appointments to the board were to be made by the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Board in 1958 comprised: Thomas Johnston (Chairman), Sir Hugh Mackenzie (Deputy Chairman), Sir John Erskine, Sir George McGlashan, A.I. Mackenzie, A. Macrae, I.A. Duncan Millar, William Hughes, John Jardine.
When the UK electricity supply industry was nationalised in 1948, the board took over the assets of the Grampian Electricity Supply Company and other bodies producing electricity in the northern part of Scotland, these were: Campbeltown and Mid-Argyll, Crieff, Dunoon and District, Loch Leven, North of Scotland, Peterhead, Stornoway, Thurso and District, Dundee, Aberdeen, Perth, Inverness, Buckie, Lossiemouth, Branderburgh and Oban Corporations.
The board's generating capacity was mainly provided by the construction of "schemes" of linked hydro-electric stations, with multiple generators located across one or more catchment area. There were also steam driven and diesel engine driven power stations. When the board was first constituted it owned only two power stations: the oil-fired Kirkwall and Rothsey stations.
The following hydro-electric stations were operational prior to nationalisation. Some were transferred to the South of Scotland Board.
|Station||Owner||Electricity supplied 1946, MWh||Maximum load, kW|
|Maxwell Town||Dumfries Corporation||220.6||87|
|Loch Luichart||Grampian Electricity Supply Company||13,219||2035|
|Rannoch||Grampian Electricity Supply Company||157,273||44,520|
|Tummel||Grampian Electricity Supply Company||113,081||23,950|
|Lochaber hydroelectric scheme||Lochaber Power Company||455,385||55,950|
The principal schemes constructed by the board were:
|Station||Capacity, MW||Water head, feet||Commissioned||Electricity Output (1958), GWh||Output (1968), GWh|
|Nostie Bridge (Lochash)||1.25||490||1947||4.607||6|
|Grudie Bridge (Fannich)||24||550||1950||99.487||82|
|Kerry Falls (Gairloch)||1.25||185||1952||2.801||5|
|Storr Lochs (Skye)||2.85||447||1952||5.871||7|
|Loch Dubh (Ullapool)||1.2||543||1954||4.299||5|
|Small compensation water stations||0.675|
|Station||Capacity, MW||Output (1968), GWh|
|Sron Mor (Shira)||5||6|
|Breadalbane (Killin Section) Lochay||47||160|
|Breadalbane (Killin Section) Lubreoch||4||13|
|Breadalbane (Killin Section) Cashlie||11||25|
|Breadalbane (St Fillans Section) St Fillans||21||76|
|Breadalbane (St Fillans Section) Dalchonzie||4||18|
|Breadalbane (St Fillans Section) Lednoch||3||5|
|Small compensation water stations||3.7|
The following additional hydro-electric stations were commissioned in the 1960s.
|Power station||Commissioned||Head of water, m||Catchment, km3||Generating capacity, MW||Annual output, GWh|
By 1968 the installed capacity of all conventional hydro-electric power stations operated by North of Scotland Board was 1047.06 MW, the total average annual output was 2911.4 GWh.
See main article: Cruachan Power Station
There were two steam power stations in 1958.
|Station||Steam raising, lb/hr||Generating sets||Maximum demand, MW||Electricity generated, GWh|
|Aberdeen (Ferryhill)||604,000||2 × 5 MW, 2 × 12.5 MW, 1 × 15 MW, 1 × 6.25 MW, 1 × 1 MW||53.1||65.906|
|Dundee (Carolina Port)||812,000||1 × 15.625 MW, 2 × 30 MW,||76.8||228.655|
There were nine diesel fuelled power stations in 1958.
|Station||Engines||Electricity output, MW||Maximum demand, MW||Electricity generated 1958, GWh|
|Bowmore||3 × 0.6 MW, 2 × 0.265 MW||2.33||1.38||4.978|
|Brodick||1 × 0.88 MW, 1 × 0.685 MW, 1 × 0.6 MW, 1 × 0.425 MW, (1 × 0.135 MW water driven)||3.087||2.18||5.725|
|Campbeltown||1 × 1 MW, 2 × 0.6 MW, 2 × 0.4 MW 2 × 0.37 MW||3.74||2.71||3.332|
|Daliburgh||1 × 0.46 MW, 2 × 0.45 MW, 1 × 0.2 MW||1.56||0.730||2.798|
|Kirkwall||4 × 1 MW, 1 × 0.52 MW, 2 × 2 MW||8.52||4.48||14.807|
|LerwIck||2 × 2 MW, 3 × 1 MW, 1 × 0.6 MW||7.6||3.985||12.894|
|Lochalsh||1 × 0.375 MW, 1 × 0.135 MW, 2 × 0.2 MW||0.91||0.59||0.059|
|Stornoway||2 × 2.04 MW, 1 × 2.0 MW, 3 × 1.0 MW||9.08||5.55||18.963|
|Tobermory||1 × 0.45 MW, 1 × 0.425 MW, 1 × 0.274 MW, 3 × 0.075 MW||1.375||0.47||1.486|
The supply of electricity was through the Highland Grid operating at 132 kV. In 1958 this comprised 1,630 circuit miles with 31 substations. The total length of all mains was 17,369 circuit miles. By April 1989 there were 1,694 km of 275 kV lines; 3,403 km of 132 kV lines; and 44,340 km of less than 132 kV lines.
Supply to customers was through 13 distribution areas. The areas' supply capacity and key data for 1956 were as follows:
|Distribution area||Supply (generating) capacity, MW||Max load, MW||Electricity sold 1956, GWh||Consumers|
|Lorne and the Isles||1.56
|North Caledonia||0.12 (hydro-electric)||70.889||210.655||63,289|
|Perth (city)||Electricity imported||13.647||3181||13,725|
|Skye and Lochalsh||0.91
|South Caledonia||75 + 30 + 6.4 +15 + 48 + 34 (hydro-electric)||70.193||226.956||57,050|
Key operating data for the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board is summarised in the table.
|Year||Total installed generating capacity, MW||Maximum demand, MW||Customers, thousands||Employees||Capital expenditure, £ million||Net profit, £ million|
The amount of electricity supplied by the board, in GWh, is shown on the graph.
North of Scotland Electricity plc was formed in 1989 to acquire the board's assets ahead of privatisation, however the name was later changed to Scottish Hydro-Electric plc. The board was dissolved in March 1990 and privatised in June 1991. The company's head office was moved from Edinburgh to Perth.
A further name change to Scottish and Southern Energy plc was made in December 1998 after the merger with Southern Electric plc. The brand name "Scottish Hydro-Electric" continues to be used for the company's Scottish business.