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