This is a 120 kWkilowatt - a measure of how fast energy is flowing. e.g. electricity might flow through an electric kettle at the rate of 2 kW (max) Archemedes screw type generator on the river Ure at Mickley in North Yorkshire. It sits in a goit which, long ago used to feed a flax mill. Installed by the local landowner, it is welcomed by the residents of the village because of its very low noise levels and its contribution to localised energy supply. This type of generator works well where there is a low head of water and it can accommodate large fluctuations in flow rate. The rotating (green part) is produced by a Netherlands company and the white bit at the top houses the generator by Siemens. At the side of it all is a fish ladder.
Table of Contents
Pico hydrovery small scale hydro electric generation - up to 5 kW. is the name for generating hydro electricity of up to 5 kW. Above that it is called micro hydro or mini hydro. The main benefits of hydro are that it is a fairly constant source of power (unlike wind or solar) and is low maintenance and reliable though it can be expensive to install, especially if any major groundworks need carrying out. There tends to be more power generated in winter than summer and this is when it is needed.
be more power generated in winter than summer and this is when it is needed.
Is there potential for hydro generation?
If you happen to have access to running water which you can tap into then there are several issues to sort out
- Do you have the legal right to extract energy from the water?
- Is the flow of water regular enough throughout the year?
- Is there sufficient head to generate power?
- Can you divert the water without causing any significant environmental damage? (eg to fish)
FIT or DIY
If you think you can answer yes to the above questions then there is a basic decision to be made: Do you want to go with the government Feed-in Tariff scheme or do you want to go it alone and be responsible for designing and installing your own scheme.
Note that to be able to receive cashback incentives through the government ‘Clean Energy Cashback’ scheme the project cannot be on a DIY basis: it has to be carried out by a certified installer. This will include assessment and design of the scheme.
The Feed in Tariff scheme offers good long term rewards but there may be reasons you would rather take control of the process yourself. To go with the Feed in Tariff scheme go to the ESTEnergy Savings Trust Hydroelectricity section (note that Scotland has its own page here). If you want to do it your own way, read on.
Rolling your own
Because there is very little modern experience of pico hydro in the UK, a lot of the on line information tends to be from abroad, particularly the US where dispersed rural communities and isolated houses have driven the market. Several manufacturers publish useful information. Eg. see the Hydro Turbines site.
Try downloading the CATCentre for Alternative Technology information sheets – Micro Hydro Power Factsheet and Hydro Power Resource Guide. Also check out the British Hydropower Association. Although they deal mainly with larger installations than pico hydro there is a lot of useful information.
There are various forums and videos:
The University of Nottingham has a Pico hydro web site covering the subject. Although mainly aimed at the developing world, it covers the basics well.
Another low-head system is the Archemedes screw. Lots of examples on Youtube
Michell-banki / Ossberger
The Banki crossflow turbine was invented and developed for situations where there is a low head of water, a common situation in the UK. It can work down to a couple of metres or so head. It is also relatively easy to construct for anyone with a small workshop and very basic engineering skills.
Fieldlines.com: The Otherpower discussion board. See the post - Post by: robl on August 19, 2010, 04:32:22 PM along with his video
There was a Green Communities program but this was unfortunately abandoned by the government in March 2011. What happened to the Big Society? There is a legacy web site with some useful info.
In Scotland there is the CARES Community And Renewable Energy Scheme (Scotland)) scheme which includes loans for community schemes