A note from the CEO

Hello and welcome to 2017.  I’d like to take this opportunity to let you know about the significant changes Snowdonia Hydro has undergone during the end of 2016 and into 2017 and how I excited I feel about the opportunities for the renewables industry in the year ahead.

At the end of September we said a sad goodbye to Rebecca Vickers who has worked tirelessly with us for the past 18 months to ensure all the licenses for applications new and old went through the correct channels, Ofgem accreditations were in place and secure for our clients, plus many many in river surveys on cold and wet Welsh days!  I would like to wish Rebecca all the best on her adventures around Europe in the Spring.

Snowdonia Hydro’s offices have moved to Rhoslefain, the updated address and phone number is on the Contact Us section of the website.  Many thanks for your patience during this time.  If you didn’t get a response from the old number before Christmas, please do try again.  New terms and conditions will also be published on the website and the prices revised to reflect the change in the industry and reduced Feed In Tariff rates.

I feel that hydro still has a strong presence in Wales and Snowdonia Hydro continues to work alongside the British Hydro Association and Welsh Government to ensure that hydro power will continue to thrive in Wales, now and in the future.  This month I will be meeting with Lesley Griffiths AM to continue our work on improving hydro power potential in Wales.  This includes revisions to flow standards, updated publications of grants and funding available for projects and increased incentives for micro hydro generation.  We intend to do all this with the utmost protection and regard for the environment and ecology across the country.

Please do drop me a line if you have any questions regarding a potential or ongoing hydro power development and I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

Amanda Forman

CEO

Snowdonia Hydro

 

 

 

Smart Meter technology

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The government is currently pushing energy suppliers to install smart meters in every home in England, Wales and Scotland with an end goal of 2020. This is part of measures to upgrade the UK’s energy supply and tackle climate change. The roll out of Smart Meters is predicted to give households more control over the energy that they use and also a greater understanding of the bills received.
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Smart Meter technology has been acknowledged by many to be a crucial step towards the smart energy grid – a more modern way of running the energy network, linking different hardware, communications and other technology. Dubbed ‘an internet for gas and electricity’ with the potential to solve many energy problems.

In a nutshell Smart Meters will:

Better match supply and demand
Be more efficient
Be greener
Waste less energy
Be more secure
Be more reliable
And unexpected power-outages will be tracked more quickly
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The use of Smart Meters is also predicted to provide more support to green technologies as it will be much better at integrating them and will help to get the most from variable power sources such as wind and solar as well as the more constant source of hydroelectricity.
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For more information on Smart Meters check out Smart Energy GB, link below:

https://www.smartenergygb.org/en/how-to-get-a-smart-meter/how-can-i-get-a-smart-meter/yourself

Fancy generating a profit that could last for decades?

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Could the watercourse on your land have hidden potential?

Whether living off-grid or the opportunity to have a regular income from the water on your land appeals the time to invest in hydroelectricity is now.

Small scale hydro has many benefits over wind and solar, such as a much more predictable output of energy in this particularly rainy country of ours and an extremely high efficiency (70-90%). The production also correlates with demand, higher flows in the winter months link with higher energy demand during those months. This same statement can not be said for solar where most of the production occurs at midday – when most homeowners are at work – or during the summer, when electricity demand is much lower. Hydro is also recognised for its low visual impact in comparison to other options and small-scale hydro in particular, this is in part due to the requirement for a much smaller impounded area than large projects meaning the environmental impact is also much less. Finally, and most compellingly, hydro is a good long-term investment – a well-designed and robust system can still be generating up to 50 years after commissioning and can be sensitively sited to ensure that development does not detract from the landowner’s core activities.

At this present moment there is still the chance to take advantage of the Feed-in Tariff, a government programme designed to promote the uptake of small-scale renewable electricity generation technologies by payments made to households or businesses generating their own electricity through the use of methods that do not contribute to the depletion of natural resources.

This scheme will end in 2019 so now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the extra boost they can give to your project before the FiT scheme runs out.

We are also able to offer services in planning, licensing, design, installation and maintenance for high and low head sites and we’re also capable of installations using waterwheels and low head screw type turbines as well.

Site Visit and Meeting with Natural Resources Wales

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View from the Intake location

 

We had a site meeting last week to check in with our client and Gwyn Roberts Construction who is the contractor carrying out the build and to carry out a quick test of how the weir was performing. A representative of Natural Resources Wales also met with us to discuss and give advice on the fish pass that has been built and we are pleased to report that we have been requested for photographs of the pass for use as an example to other contractors which is brilliant news and a great example of the work carried out by Gwyn and his team. We are working closely with NRW at the moment in the hope to provide the best service and end result possible and are pleased to have such positive feedback from a representative.

The construction phase for this project is moving swiftly forward and it is already time for the electricians to check everything is in order in the powerhouse next week before Scottish Power take over to carry out their part and we are very much looking forward to going live in September.

 

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Testing of the Weir

New Hydro in Wales

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Setting the piperoute
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Buried pipeline

April has seen the start of two new builds for Snowdonia Hydro, one has already begun with the opportunity of the good weather at the start of the month too good to miss (not to be taken for granted in North Wales). The build is moving quickly and smoothly so far and the site itself is already being set back to its original state with the pipeline being buried as the contractors move along and we’re very excited to see the outcome in a few months time!

The next project is waiting for the final few stages to be completed before it can also go ahead, this is a beautiful but also difficult site with a section of extremely steep Oak woodland so extreme care will be taken to avoid the trees, making this project a much more hands-on build for us to ensure the work is carried out to our exacting standards.

 

 

Important Changes to FIT tariffs

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On the 17th of December DECC announced changes to the Feed-in Tariffs (FITs) scheme following a consultation. A pause to the scheme was introduced from the 15th January 2016 to the 7th February 2016 and from the 8th of February deployment caps were also brought into place. Each technology has a separate cap and degression band and is restricted to a set amount of applications per deployment period. Once a cap has been reached no further installations are permitted to receive the tariff rate applicable to the period. These caps work alongside a default depression set by DECC – if the cap is reached there is a contingent degression of 10% in the next cap period on top of the existing default degression.

This point has now been reached with the allotted 1.1 mW exceeded in hydro applications and a further degression has been triggered for next months FIT rate. Therefore from the 1st April to the 30th of June 2016 the rate will be 7.68 pence – a drop from the 8.54 pence given in February. All installations with pre accreditation dates that fall after the cap has been reached will be placed on hold and be queued for entry into the next tariff period. Assuming there is sufficient capacity available in the next period the installation will be eligible to receive the tariff applicable to that tariff period.

On a more positive note, the export tariff has risen more than predicted to a total of 4.91 pence per kilowatt and with the support of certain energy companies who are keen to use green energy this could be negotiated to be slightly higher.

You can keep up to date with tariff changes on the Ofgem website

https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/environmental-programmes/feed-tariff-fit-scheme

Spring Update

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Barmouth with a Snow-topped Cadair Idris in the background

Has spring finally sprung!? It has definitely felt like it the last two weeks with perfect weather to carry out a number of site visits across Gwynedd and Ceredigion (with the exception of today’s weather which seems to be – typically – settling in for the easter weekend). With two 100 kW systems to build this summer we are hoping for some sunshine!

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Perfect weather for an ecology site visit in Ceredigion

The first ecology report of the year has also been carried out with swift work conducted by Vital Ecology, resulting in a comprehensive view of the ecology of the site.

Closer to home, work is continuing at Bryn Cemlyn – a small hydro project which is the product of a collaboration between the National Trust and a local landowner and feeds into the Mawddach River and one which we will be taking through the planning process extremely soon. This is a beautiful site and will put into practice our company aims to carry out work as conscientiously as possible, avoiding any possible impact to such a unique and mostly untouched area.

Looking to the future an exciting opportunity has arisen to collaborate with an overseas company specialising in cost-effective low-head turbines which could be leading us to a more diverse portfolio of projects sometime soon.

We are also excited to continue with the stream of meetings we have had with the British Hydro Association and the Welsh Government with the aim of helping to pave the way for a brighter future in hydro – watch this space!

 

New projects on the horizon?

February was off to a good start for Snowdonia Hydro with two site visits last week and another still to be carried out – an encouraging beginning to 2016 despite the recent cuts to the Feed-in Tariff, the results of which can be seen here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/487300/FITs_Review_Govt__response_Final.pdf

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Gloomy weather in Gwynedd

 

Both sites, one local and one further afield gave us the opportunity to explore deserted forestry in our own backyard – a definite upside to living in often wet and windy Wales, which of course makes it the perfect location for hydroelectricity!

Gloomy weather has been the norm for the past two months with site work carried out in miserable conditions, though fortunately none today in the midst of Storm Imogen which has hit the west coast of Wales.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tregaron hills
Tregaron hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

January

 

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A ‘casualty’ of the course

In January the team at Snowdonia Hydro undertook a two day REC emergency outdoor first aid course with Snowdonia First Aid to gain skills extremely relevant to our hill-based and sometimes very remote line of work in North-West Wales.

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Misty valleys near Llanberis

Leaving Tywyn early meant we were able to experience the stunning scenery of the area as the day dawned bright and sunny with freezing mist in the bottom of the valleys near Llanberis.

This short trip was a positive start to the new year which came after the disappointing news of the unexpectedly large cuts to the the Feed-in Tariff in mid December 2015 which have hit the hydro industry hard. We have decided to face this challenge head on however with a view to extending our skills base further, providing an even better service.

The course itself has made us much more confident with the idea of having to deal with emergency first aid when help might be a long time coming and of course the views weren’t bad either!

 

Llyn Padarn at sunrise
Llyn Padarn at sunrise