Shin hydro scheme

Shin is Scotland’s most northerly hydro electric scheme. It utilises water from a 650 square kilometre catchment area in Sutherland, including Loch Shin, and water from the River Cassley and River Brora.

Sutherland has a remote and rugged beauty. It gets its name from the Norse for ‘southern lands’ because although it is as far north as you can travel on mainland Britain, it was, for Vikings who invaded Scotland in the 9th Century, in the south. It is the least populated area in all of Europe, with an average density of just under three people per square kilometre, compared to the average density for all Scotland of around 68 people per square kilometre. By contrast, Glasgow has an average population density of over 3,500 people per square kilometre.

When the Lairg dam was built at the southern end of Loch Shin to form the main reservoir for the Shin scheme, it raised the water level in the loch by around 11 metres, making it on of Scotland’s largest freshwater lochs at over 27 kilometres long and over 1.5 kilometres wide for most of its length.

View of Shin

The River Shin is one of Scotland’s best salmon rivers. Seeing the salmon swimming upstream to their spawning grounds and leaping up waterfalls to get there can be a spectacular sight. When Lairg Dam was built, it was designed so that compensation water would always flow in the River Shin. This, combined with a Borland fish lift, enabled adult salmon to navigate the dam and swim upstream to their spawning grounds.

If you venture that far north, you still won’t see what is arguably the most impressive feature of the Shin scheme: an eight kilometre tunnel that enables water used by Lairg Power Station to be used again to drive Shin Power Station’s turbines at Inveran.

Shin produces enough electricity every year to power over 50,000 homes, enough for all the homes in Dundee and Inverness.

Shin map
Power stationsCapacity (MW)Gross head (metres)Average annual output (million units)Year completed
Casseley10113261959
Lairg3.510121959
Shin18.6811251958