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.
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
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:
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.
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.
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!