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Shin Hydro-Electric Power Scheme

Shin is the most northerly of Scotland's Hydro-Electric Power schemes and, reflecting its location in rolling heather moorland rather than the considerable relief of the larger schemes to the south, Shin has a modest output for the size of its catchment of only 38 megawatts. The scheme is centred around Loch Shin, by far the largest loch in Northern Scotland, which runs NW from Lairg in the old county of Sutherland, together with the diverted headwaters of the Rivers Cassley and Brora. Water collected from the River Cassley feeds the tiny 0.45 megawatt (MW) power station at Duchally. Due to the remoteness and inaccessibility of the area, this station is fully automated, with its operation controlled by water level.

From Duchally, water is diverted by a 2½ mile (4 km) long tunnel to the 10 megawatt Cassley power station on the western shore of Loch Shin. Loch Shin, the main storage reservoir, is retained by the Lairg Dam, some 427m (1400 feet) long and 12m (40 feet) high, which is built over a 3.5 megawatt power station. Water passes to the smaller reservoir of Little Loch Shin immediately below, which is used to maintain a minimum level in the River Shin, but the majority of water is then routed through a 5 mile (8 km) long tunnel to the 24 MW Shin Power Station at Inveran, near the confluence of the River Shin and the River Oykel. Further water is diverted from the Grudie Burn to the Shin Power Station. Finally the water passes back into the River Shin which soon afterwards empties into the Dornoch Firth.

The scheme became fully operational in 1960 and is now run by the privatised Scottish & Southern Energy Plc, headquartered in Perth, with an annual turnover of £2.3 billion. A fish lift is used at the Lairg Dam to allow the migration of salmon.


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