At Ripple, we’re enabling members take climate action into their own hands by owning part of a large scale renewable energy project. We are pleased to see renewable energy projects becoming a key part of British landscapes. These landmarks are a commitment to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by greening up the grid, cleaning our air and paving the way towards a more sustainable way of living.
In 2022, 35.3 TWh of renewable electricity were generated in Scotland. This is a 28.1% increase compared to 2021 and the highest yearly figure to date, overtaking 2020.
Our members love sharing road trip ideas that they can take in their electric vehicle. Here is our own ‘Ripple Road Trip’ that takes you around some of Scotland’s most magnificent renewable energy sites. We start with Cruachan Dam, a hydro electric station built inside a mountain!
Your first stop at Cruachan Dam is just over two hours north west from Glasgow. The route is scenic, passing Loch Lochmond and going through the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park on the A82. You’ll also pass Inveruglas Pyramid, a popular walking trail where you can walk up some wooded steps to the pyramid, An Ceann More, and enjoy stunning views over Loch Lomond.
Cruachan Dam is a hydro electric dam built in Ben Cruachan, and one of only four pumped storage power solutions in the UK. The dam generates electricity through the release of water from the upper reservoir to the lower reservoir, rotating four turbines which then turn generators to produce electricity. Electricity from the grid is then used to drive the turbines in the opposite direction to pump the water back up to the upper reservoir when there is a national surplus of electricity. This helps to balance the grid.
To give you an idea of scale, the combined storage capacity of the two reservoirs is a whopping 10 million m3 of water, and the entire dam generates 440MW of power at peak – enough to supply over 225,000 homes!
The dam has a visitor centre where you can park, with a couple of EV charging points if you need to top-up. In the visitor centre, you can join a guided tour to see the turbine platform inside the mountain and learn more about the dam’s history. The centre also has the ‘The Hollow Mountain’ cafe, where you can sit, relax and enjoy homemade meals whilst admiring the views over Loch Awe.
Image courtesy of SSE Renewables
Next up, we have Pitlochry Dam, which is around a 2 hour drive east away from Cruachan Dam, passing Loch Tay and the small market town of Aberfeldy. You’ll also drive past Ben More, a mountain peaking at 3,842ft – a great stop if you fancy a challenging hike to stretch your legs!
Pitlochry Dam is one of nine stations in the Tummel hydro electric scheme in the Grampian Mountains. Considerably smaller than Cruachan Dam, Pitlochry provides 15MW of power at peak – enough to supply 15,000 homes.
At Pitlochry Dam visitor centre, you can find out more about other stations in the Tummel hydro electric scheme, as well as the Hydro Electric Development Act in 1943; the result of which being the rapid adoption of hydro electric schemes in Scotland, where 300 km of tunnels, 78 dams and 54 power stations were built rapidly in an intensive period of engineering across the Highlands.
Boyndie Wind Farm
Boyndie Wind Farm in the north east is just over a 2hr 30 min drive from Pitlochry Dam, passing through the beautiful Cairngorms National Park. If you need a stop off point, you’ll pass through Aviemore, a town with pubs, cafes and hotels – known for its ideal location for exploring the Cairngorms wildlife including Scottish wildcats and capercaillie birds. We’d recommend Cheese and Tomatin for the best pizza in town if you’re on the hunt for a lunch spot.
Once you arrive at Boyndie, you can park at the Boyndie visitor centre where there is a gift shop, cafe, garden centre, and an exhibition on RAF Banff history. The wind farm is a pleasant 20 minute walk away from the vistor centre, with the option of walking further for a 2 hour RAF Banff Heritage Trail, or an extra 15 minutes to the Control Tower Viewpoint.
The wind farm has eight turbines, each producing up to 2000kW of electricity. At full capacity, the wind farm generates 16.3MW of green energy at peak- enough to power around 9,100 homes.
Boyndie Wind Farm is only a 5 minute drive to Banff, a historic fishing town where you’ll find unspoilt Georgian architecture and a picturesque harbour – a great place to stop and explore.
Errol Solar Park
Errol Solar Park is around a 2 and a half hour drive down the east coast of Scotland from Boyndie, passing Aberdeen and Dundee – both great pit stops for food, rest and discovery.
There is no car park at the solar park, but you can park your car at the Madoch Centre in St Madoes nearby. At the centre, there is a solar-powered EV rapid charger, a great cafe and a simple footpath down the road to the solar park.
The solar park has 55,000 panels, covering 70 acres of land and generating 13MW at full capacity – enough to power 3,500 homes. The land is also used for agricultural purposes – you may see sheep grazing underneath the solar panels or sheltering from the heat. For those wanting to take a longer walk, the trail keeps going past the solar park all the way to the River Tay.
The solar park is only a 10 minute drive from Perth, which has plenty of restaurants, hotels and shops for you to refresh and refuel.
Whitelee Wind Farm
Your final stop is Whitelee Wind Farm, 30 mins south of Glasgow and just over 1hr 30mins from Errol Solar Park, making it an ideal day trip if you’re staying in the city, or a perfect stop-off point to rest and re-fuel for your onward travel. Whitelee is the UK’s largest onshore wind farm, with a staggering 215 turbines. At full capacity, this generates 539MW – enough to power 350,000 homes!
As you can imagine, Whitelee covers a lot of ground, and there are 130 km of paths around the farm that can be explored on foot, bicycle or horseback. There is a visitor centre there open everyday where you can park with an EV solar charging canopy. In the centre, you’ll find a cafe with seating surrounded by large glass windows, showcasing beautiful views of the wind farm. There is also an informative exhibition there where you can learn all about the wind farm and Whitelee’s race to net-zero.
Whitelee can be seen from Ripple’s own Kirk Hill Wind Farm, and we look forward to adding Kirk Hill to this list once the site is safe for visitors!
View of Whitelee Wind Farm from Kirk Hill
The whole journey from Cruachan Dam to Whitelee Wind Farm is around 410 miles and takes just over 8 and a half hours to drive.
We’d love to see any photos you take, and if you have any recommendations for pit stops along the way! Kirk Hill members, please look out for updates on when the site is ready to visit and we’ll share with you the best place to view your wind farm from. If you aren’t already a Ripple member and want to own a piece of your own renewable energy, reserve a spot for our next project today.