Autumn Activities at Snowdonia Hydro

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The months of September and October saw some busy weeks for us at Snowdonia Hydro. With preliminary accreditation coming to an end on the 30th of September and the consultation on the proposed cuts to the Feed-in Tariff closing on the 23rd October it was full steam ahead to try and complete applications for accreditation and craft a response to join in the fight against these government changes.

The process of preliminary accreditation was originally put into place to give early notice of and protect against degression, giving a guaranteed price to investors in hydro projects. Without this system the payback time for building a site becomes less certain, however luckily for us most of our projects are on such excellent sites that they are still going ahead even with these cuts in place.

We are also staying optimistic that accreditation will be reinstated in January 2016 when the results of the Feed-in Tariff consultation will be published.

Though busy we have also found the time to head out on visits to a number of our sites here in Wales, giving the opportunity to test off-road driving skills amongst stunning scenery and the chance to look at sites both old and new, developing ideas and plans for the next stages of construction over the winter months.

Moving forward we are also happy to announce that Snowdonia Hydro are now members of the British Hydro Association and look forward to the opportunities ahead of us with this membership.

Tynddol Off-grid Hydroelectric Renovation

Renovations are complete on the offgrid property in Ceredigion. Up to this point the property used a 5kW Gilkes turbine, which had been running for over 40 years. We have installed an entirely new system with a completely new (penstock) pipe and control unit, boosting the maximum power output to 18kW. This has been achieved by increasing the head height (vertical drop), thereby increasing the pressure.

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The dam has been renovated and modernised to include a hands-off flow, as per requirement; this ensures the depleted section of the river never dries up. Environmental benefits include easier fish migrations and more abundant ecology due to the now constant flow. The new system features a bespoke three phase to single phase transformer as well as a Gerry Pope Offgrid electronic load controller; the turgo turbine is provided by Hydrolite.

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The family have discussed installing a hot tub as one of the additional features now available to them due to their increased power capacity.

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Lightning Damage Mitigation Project In Motion

Damage inflicted by lightning strikes on hydro systems is significant. The surge of voltage from nearby lightning strikes is much too great for the sensitive electrical components to withstand and consequently entire systems are brought to a halt until the electrics are repaired and reinstated. Meanwhile the systems are not generating electricity and the clients are either left without power or missing out on the financial benefits they would otherwise be receiving.

Courtesy of tomgriffithsphotography
Courtesy of tomgriffithsphotography

We are pleased to have Daniel Reaney, our resident Renewable Energy (MEng) student intern from the University of Exeter, currently focussed on the project. Together, we are working on a solution to mitigate the impact of proximal lightning strikes and therefore reduce associated downtimes. Lightning is a threat to all hydro systems; by identifying and removing vulnerability from the classic design we aim to deliver one of the safest and most robust systems available anywhere.

If anyone has had any relevant experiences with lightning and hydro systems we would love to hear from you. Please get in touch via info@snowdoniahydro.com.

10 kW Hydro System powering Welsh Estate

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This 10.8 kW hydro scheme powers a historical Welsh estate in the heart of Snowdonia National Park.
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The hydro turbine, made by Hydrolite Ltd is a fantastic example of a grid linked system which supplies free clean electricity to a grade 2 listed building.
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The following article was published by the Cambrian news in April 2014:

“On the Peniarth Estate in the Dysynni Valley, where the Williams-Wynne family has been established for 600 years, a new micro hydro scheme has just been commissioned.  It produces free electricity for the estate and exports the remainder to the grid.

Amanda Forman, of Snowdonia Hydro based in Tywyn, project managed the entire scheme from start to finish.  This is a first for the area and demonstrates the viability of micro hydro generation.

The owner of Peniarth, Mr William Williams-Wynne, had been trying to get a hydro scheme developed for many years and said,

“It is only thanks to Amanda at Snowdonia Hydro that the project ever got off the ground and that it is so successful.”

Ms Forman set up Snowdonia Hydro two years ago, and it is going from strength to strength as the level of interest in micro hydro soars.  She is keen to work with local communities and for Snowdonia Hydro to be an approachable business for local people.  She says:

“Estates such as Peniarth need to move with the times and make their property pay.  Developing a hydro scheme is a good way for the estate to diversify”.

And it’s an all-Welsh project with the turbine having been manufactured in Swansea.  The system is a 10.8 kW system and uses a Hydrolite turgo turbine.  The site is what is known as a ‘high head’ site which enables the system to operate under pressure at high efficiency.  It is estimated to generate 37,000 kWh per year, equivalent to the electricity consumption of nearly 10 households, and will offset 19 tonnes of CO2.”

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Micro Hydro Groundworks underway…

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This micro hydro system in West Wales will generate 10kWs during high flows to prove clean electricity for a Welsh Estate.
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Work has continued this week to complete the groundworks for the electrical cable to carry power to the Estate.  Running nearly a kilometre across agricultural land we’ve traversed BT cables, water mains and a minor road to bring this base amount of power to the Estate.

As well as providing free electricity, this micro hydro site in West Wales will also operate in Island mode, giving the owner a distinct benefit over other grid linked systems because it will switch over to off grid during power outages.  Is this the first grid connect / island hybrid micro hydro power system in wales?  We think it might be…

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Gwynedd Hydro at Welsh Estate

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The final landscaping is being done on this weir in a Gwynedd Estate ready for the turbine install within the next few weeks.
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Snowdonia Hydro will be holding an open day soon in honour of completing our first micro hydro project from design to completion.  With hydro projects popping up all over Gwynedd and North Wales we would like to invite you to come along and see a site we have installed.  Watch this space for a date!

If you are thinking about a hydro project, Snowdonia Hydro offers attractive rates and professional consultancy services for hydro projects across Gwynedd, Ceredigion and Powys.   Based in Bryncrug and Tywyn, we can offer a reliable service using local trades people, supporting all our rural businesses in Gwynedd.

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Licensing Complete for Micro Hydro Renovation

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This old hydro system is being retrofitted with a brand new turbine to provide 4 kWs of free electricity to an imposing Welsh building bordering the Afon Mawddach
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All the paperwork is complete for this renovation project in Snowdonia National Park.  The twin Pelton wheels are part of a former hydro site which produced electricity for a large stone house and cottages.  Hoping to see this build start over the summer with a lot of manual work as we are operating within a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

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Snowdonia and beyond…

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Hydro sites capable of generating over 100kWs will bring a significant financial return and give you energy security for the future.
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Snowdonia Hydro offers flexible financial options on hydro developments in Wales.
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I have met several times recently with the directors of Cheshire based company Beyond Hydro.  We have agreed to work together to bring financial backing to hydro sites and to ensure that land owners get an excellent opportunity to develop their site with the financial backing of external shareholders.

Beyond Hydro offer landowners land lease schemes and shares of the gross profits in order to develop a hydro site, they then carry all the financial burdens to obtain the very best annual returns.  You can choose to invest as little or as much as you like in a project and have all the financial aspects taken care of.

I am really pleased to be working with a company who want to promote the interests of rural landowners and believe that together, we can offer the very best contracts on hydro sites >100kW.

Snowdonia Hydro can advise you on the suitability of your site.

Call now to book a site visit.

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Ceredigon off grid Hydro

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This fantastic Gilkes turgo turbine has been supplying this farm with off grid hydro electricity since around 1930 and it’s still going!
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The aim is to renovate this system by increasing the head to create a bit more electricity to better meet the demands of off grid living.
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Off Grid living can often be a daunting idea, but this family have always lived off the grid.  They have no bills to pay for electricity, gas or oil and probably know as much about hydro maintenance as a qualified engineer.

The idea with this system will be to double the amount of head available and increase the power output to cope with modern demands.  Items such as electric kettles, hair driers and power showers in the modern house use a huge amount of electricity.  In a grid connected house, the grid is used to cope with this sudden peak in electricity usage.  In an off grid house we need to calculate how much electricity is needed when the kettle, shower and lights are on at the same time?  The answer will be around the 10kW mark!  The peak load for an off grid house needs to match the generating and storage capacity of an off grid system.   This one will be linked up to a back up generator to avoid tripping the fuses.

The site work will require an entirely new pipeline to be laid across the fields, renovation works to the small impoundment and a new turbine house with modern generating equipment.   It also means a whole new process has to begin with getting the licensing and permissions in places from the new governing body “Natural Resource Wales” who now handle all hydro licenses in Wales.

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Peniarth Estate Hydro

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Set in the beautiful countryside of Snowdonia National Park this micro hydro system will generate clean energy with little impact on it’s environment.
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As we move steadily onwards Peniarth Hydro looks set to continue this summer with a new turbine from another manufacturer (details to be confirmed).  The installation work was delayed because of issues with the supply of the turbine and we are hoping for progress to continue again throughout Spring and Summer 2013 without too many more delays!

There are so many people to consult and work with on a hydro project, including bespoke hydro engineers,  electrical engineers, the District Network Operator (DNO), Planning Authority and Environment Agency it is not surprising most projects take a minimum of 2 years to complete.  However the benefits will far outweigh the hard work with a constant and reliable source of carbon zero electricity to offset those rising fuel bills.

This grand Estate house will be moving into the 21st century by embracing the world of renewable energy and securing it’s future for another 400 years.

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