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SSE Heritage unveil ‘Power from the Glens’ Art Exhibit at Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh

31 Aug 2023

SSER Graduate Engineer Ellie Lawton and Hydro Apprentice Rhuraidh Johnstone on the Royal Mile as they deliver an artworks of the Scotland’s original hydro schemes from 80 years ago to the ‘Power from the Glens’ exhibit, taking place in the Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh

SSE Heritage has today unveiled its ‘Power from the Glens’ art exhibit, which will run until Tuesday 19th September at the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh.

The free-to-attend curated art exhibit will be open daily from 10am to 6pm with restrictions to access on the 6th, 12th, 13th and 15th due to other events within the space. It is being held in association with SSE Renewables, the largest generator of hydroelectricity in Scotland and the UK.

‘Power from the Glens’ showcases original drawings and designs from SSE’s earliest hydro schemes in the north of Scotland. The exhibition marks the 80th Anniversary of the 1943 Hydro Electric Development (Scotland) Act, which brought hydro-electric power to the Scottish Glens eight decades ago.   

Curated by Gillian O’Reilly and Holly Cammidge of SSE Heritage, with texts provided by Dr Alistair Fair, Reader in Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh, the exhibition features the original design drawings of architects James Shearer, Thomas Gratton, Peter McLean, Robert Hurd, Robert Matthew, F.A. Weemys and H.O. Tarbolton, as well as the drawings of artists including Robert Eadie and William Douglas Macleod.

The construction of 54 power stations, 78 dams and over 300km of underground tunnels, beginning 80 years ago, resulted in affordable electricity for Highland communities, transforming the way people lived and worked. Now, eight decades later, SSE Renewables still owns and operates most of these sites, using ‘Scotland’s original source of renewable energy’ to provide cost-effective, low-carbon flexibility to Britain’s energy system.

"It’s exciting to be showcasing SSE’s rich history in hydroelectricity with this exhibition, which highlights the significant projects we have delivered in the Scottish Highlands that will help us transition to a net zero future.

This is a year of celebration for SSE as we mark 80 years of hydroelectricity. I’m sure the public will enjoy this exhibition of work from the architects and artists who were commissioned to produce images of proposed infrastructure and how it would fit into the natural environment and beauty of the Highlands."

Gillian O’Reilly Head of Heritage at SSE plc

"This exhibition tells a story about hydroelectricity being powered from the Scottish Glens and the hydro revolution of the 1940s and 50s.

You will see work from leading architects and artists in a showcase of the original architectural drawings for the iconic fleet of Hydro Power Stations and Dams across the Scottish Highlands."

Alistair Fair Reader in Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh

SSE is this year celebrating 80 years of hydroelectricity, with SSE Renewables currently operating eight hydroelectric power assets across the north of Scotland. The company’s hydro portfolio totals 1,459MW of installed capacity, including 300MW of pumped storage and 750MW of flexible hydro.

SSE Renewables is currently developing two new pumped hydro storage projects to deliver the large-scale, long-duration electricity storage needed as part of the UK’s future energy mix set out in the Government’s ‘British Energy Security Strategy’.

This includes plans to develop the fully consented, 30GWh Coire Glas project in the Scottish Highlands, which could see a potential £1.5bn-plus investment in what could be the UK’s biggest pumped hydro storage scheme in 40 years.