Cruachan Hydro Station control systems to be upgraded by ITI

A photograph of turbines in a hydro station.
Posted in Latest News on August 17th, 2020

In continuing to support its clients as they strive for a carbon neutral future, ITI will upgrade the PLC control systems for the turbine generator units at Drax’s Cruachan Hydroelectric power station.

Cruachan Power Station is a reversible pump storage hydroelectric station situated on the banks of Loch Awe, owned and operated by Drax Generation Enterprises. Pumped Storage Hydro stations act not only as sources of power, but because they utilise surplus energy from intermittent renewables such as solar and wind, they provide valuable energy storage when demand is low, enabling operators to accelerate decarbonisation goals.

Since the station plays such a valuable role in Drax’s carbon negative strategy, the energy provider has commissioned ITI to upgrade the station’s PLC control systems in order to maximise power generation and minimise risk.


Cruachan has four generator units housed within a cavern located 1km inside Ben Cruachan, which are currently controlled and monitored by legacy PLC technology. The existing control systems have served the power station well, but due to evolving technology have become obsolete and inefficient to support. ITI will undertake the design, documentation, implementation, test, installation and commissioning of the upgraded control systems for all four units aimed at providing a robust and resilient solution that will support the station for years to come.

ITI’s knowledgeable and experienced team have first-hand detailed knowledge of the PLC, SCADA and all plant interfaces associated with the control systems at the Cruachan hydro station. The long-standing systems integrator not only installed the existing PLC control systems for the units along with the alarm system in 1987, but also the SCADA System which assumed control of the station in 1998. They later realigned the SCADA Systems at Cruachan, Lanark & Galloway Hydroelectric stations, so that all three sites could be operated from a single interface, and the company now provides support services for the all-encompassing solution.

Steve Scott, Engineering Manager at Drax, said: “We are pleased to have engaged ITI to perform the upgrade of our turbine control systems. Cruachan Power Station is an important asset in the Drax Hydro portfolio providing 440 Megawatts of reliable and sustainable green energy to homes and businesses across Scotland. ITI is one of our key supply chain partners with whom we have a long standing and successful relationship in the development and maintenance of the assets for this power station.”

In order to align with the client’s schedules, the installation work will be phased across the next three years in a programme of work worth nearly £1m to the systems integrator.  This, combined with ITI’s migration technology and existing knowledge of the site SCADA systems, will minimise the downtime of the station during installation, enabling Drax to keep Cruachan online and productive for the maximum time possible.

Bryn Thomas, Sales Director for Power and Infrastructure at ITI said: “We’ve been working at Cruachan Power Station for over 30 years now, and in that time have developed a deep understanding of their assets, their systems and their operational requirements. It is these strong relationships with our customers that enable us to work with them on developing transformative solutions that enhance their operations, improve safety and support sustainable green energy production.”

The project will be run by a team of highly qualified and experienced engineers based out of ITI’s Glasgow office, which is strategically placed to support the company’s nuclear and renewables clients across Scotland. The office is currently operating with strict social distancing and hygiene measures in place to allow the critical engineers to progress the project while their colleagues continue to safely work remotely, from home.

ITI continues to support all of its clients across the UK’s critical infrastructure at this challenging time. With stringent safety measures in place, their teams are poised to react to both the changing climate and their clients’ needs.