Smallholders Insurance from Greenlands

Author Topic: why not hydro?  (Read 4550 times)


  • Global Moderator
  • Joined Sep 2012
  • Llandeilo Carmarthenshire
    • Nantygroes
    • Facebook
why not hydro?
« on: February 18, 2013, 08:39:04 am »
I dont understand why in Wales (and most of west of UK) where there is no shortage of water (understatment!) more use is not made of hydro.   Elec and heating demands are most in winter when solar is lowest, wind is only good in very exposed areas (which unfortunately is the tops of all good views!). Rivers and streams here run all year with their highest velocity in winter.

Has anyone any experience of using streams for producing electric? 


Don't wrestle with pigs, they will love it and you will just get all muddy.

Let go of who you are and become who you are meant to be.
Nantygroes  facebook page


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2013, 12:32:08 pm »
we are going down that route now  (look up powerspout  8)  - buy it, plum it, get an electrician to hook it up...).  We are geting advice from a fab lady (snowdonia hydro) who says that it used to be that way in wales... but 2 things killed it - the national grid lured everyone off it with low prices coupled with the introduction of charges for water abstraction.  The current deterent I think is the beurocracy (and accociated costs) and still too high costs... last year it was looking like around 20K for a 2-4 Kw system linked to grid with 2K a year FIT....... NOt a bad return if you happen to have 20K. 
We are planning to DIY  a small sytem (1 or 2 KW) into underfloor heating for backround heat through the winter - which will enable us to get rid of the LPG that we use for morning heating (about 500/year)


  • Joined Mar 2009
  • carmarthenshire
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2013, 07:45:11 pm »
I too am going the DIY route - too much bureaucracy for the official route.

There's certainly a lot of potential power going to waste around here.

The cost is still significant with DIY though - just the plumbing cost me 600 and the cable to get the power home 120. Given that I'm averaging only ~100units of electricity/annum from the grid, it's going to take me a while to break even.


  • Joined Feb 2013
  • South Cheshire
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #3 on: February 20, 2013, 07:21:15 pm »
Many hydro schemes in Wales involve new weirs, high head and create significant sections of watercourses with less water - all of which can be potentially damaging to the ecology of the watercourse...hence many similar schemes installed in Scandinavia a couple of decades back are now being ripped out.

DIY is an option, but it doesn't negate the need for the appropriate consents, and ALL such schemes will require consent.  Failure to obtain consent can incur prosecution, fines and costs for removal of the works.  With even the tiniest streams now being inspected in one form or another every few years to ensure compliance with the legislation, failure to gain consent comes at a considerable risk...
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 09:13:49 pm by Oly »

oor wullie

  • Joined Jun 2012
  • Strathnairn
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 07:37:24 am »
Power companies are only interested in big projects as the costs and logistics of loads of little 4kw schemes is too high.  Run of the river schemes are only going to produce fairly small amounts of electricity.  To get a lot of power you need a high head (the Grande Dixence Dam in Switzerland which feeds a power station with a 1880m head is an awesome sight).

Scotland produces about 10% of its electricity from hydro but that is unlikely to increase.  Most of the dams were built in the 1950s when there were few restrictions on flooding huge areas of the highlands.  Look at the fuss people kick up about the building of a few wind turbines - multiply that by 100 if they tried to dam somewhere like Glen Affric.  In addition a lot of the best sites have already been used.
The recently built Glen Doe (the first big scheme in 50 years) will probably be the last big scheme (although I think there are some pumped storage schemes being planned)

Domestic schemes are limited as very few people have a suitable river and slope in their garden.  If you do, it could be a brilliant opportunity. 
I wonder if my neighbour and SEPA would mind if I diverted a stream to come onto my land...................


  • Joined May 2011
  • Yorkshireman on a hill in wet South Wales
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2013, 02:20:08 pm »
The double screw type hydro set up can run with just a few metres head of water,  so can a very wide over shot water wheel say 3 mtrs as the wiight of the water  will turn all sorts of gear boxes to give generator speeds . Diverting water into a race and having a header pool could be beneficial if it were linked to the agri pond situation or one of growing trout , cress or crayfish etc for a diversifiaction project  that attracts  grants and permissions from the EEC , local governmnt or national government .
From what I've seen of a couple of over shot 4 mtr wheels ....  getting the race flow was critical and was adjusted daily to drive the generator . If that could be done automatically via a sluice gate using power from the generator according the the demand of power of the household /building  I thinks would be better 
International playboy & liar .
Man of the world not a country

Still playing with tractors

  • Joined Jul 2012
  • Cumbernauld
  • You can never have enough HP
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2013, 02:04:09 pm »
Let me start by introducing myself to you all, my name is Alasdair Brewster and I run a small consultancy business, as part of this one of my main clients is The Scottish Environment Protection Agency or SEPA. I mainly look at river restoration from an engineering perspective to do with the EU water framework directive, however my background includes amongst other things hydro and I currently advise SEPA on applications. I have been working in hydro on and off since the early 90's.

One important part with any hydro project is the passage of fish, and in particular Salmon trout and eels. The requirement for a fishpass is usually a requirement of any scheme. Don't underestimate the cost of a fish pass, to give you an example on a small weir circa 15m across with a head difference of 1.2m the cost of design procurement and installation will be circa 80-100k.

I cant speak for any projects south of the border under the EA, but if anyone needs advice from north of the border i can probably help.

The biggest issue with 99% of all weirs i come into contact with is they were originally built 100's of years ago and usually have been bodged together ever since. most owners of structures don't relise that if the structure fails and causes damage they will be liable. Ive yet to find anyone who has their weir insured!

Mini schemes are fine even at 2kw you can still make money, its all down to the site. if you are lucky enough to have a water fall below your site and its impassable to fish (this will have to proved) you can avoid a fishpass.

Before you do any river works remember you need to have, a licence, silt control measures and if plant is used hydrocarbon booms, this is regardless of where you live in the UK.

if you need any help, PM me. 


  • Joined May 2013
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2013, 10:46:15 pm »
has anyone got any experience with the powerspout micro hydro turbine which is advertised on ebay and elsewhere, we are thinking of installing this into a stream with a drop connected to a battery bank, with Inverter as well


  • Joined Sep 2011
  • Bala, North Wales
    • Facebook
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2013, 08:38:18 am »
Sue we are going down that route but still at the v notch and measuring stage. I also want to go and see one in situe - on the youtubes Ive seen they sound VERY noisyand sound carries well in our vally so that would not be OK....  There are a couple of viable alternatives too I'll dig out the names


  • Joined Jun 2013
Re: why not hydro?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2013, 07:08:15 pm »
I've got a passing interest in hydro and know a couple of guys who work in the sector.
Unfortunately whilst I have plenty head available on my land, I don't think I have sufficient flow (essentially there are a couple of ditches and that's it). I'll see what it's like in mid winter though...

The previously mentioned Powerspout have a very handy calculator on their website which will let you see whether you may have a viable watercourse.
Another useful website is who sell a variety of Chinese-made turbines at low prices.


Hydro power

Started by Luckyand Annie (9.53)

Replies: 1
Views: 1555
Last post December 26, 2015, 09:23:46 pm
by mab
MCZ Mussa hydro 15 wood pellet boiler - opinions?

Started by milly molly (9.12)

Replies: 0
Views: 2465
Last post September 23, 2011, 06:46:39 pm
by milly molly

Forum sponsors

FibreHut Energy Helpline Thomson & Morgan Time for Paws Scottish Smallholder & Grower Festival Ark Farm Livestock Movement Service

© The Accidental Smallholder Ltd 2003-2021. All rights reserved.

Design by Furness Internet

Site developed by Champion IS