A Major Milestone
The Volts and Amps are Flowing!
Since the last newsletter, Congleton Hydro has been in continuous generation (apart from a few short shutdowns to facilitate safe working on cladding etc). From about mid-September we have now exported 30MWhrs worth of electricity to Siemens. Early days yet but this gives us growing confidence that we will achieve the Business Plan predicated 250,000kWhrs per year. More importantly of course this represents £££££ as we have also now started invoicing The Customer – Siemens. (A monthly invoicing schedule has been agreed). This figure of 30MWhrs is also very satisfactory as for large parts of the last few weeks, the water level in the river has been quite low but because of our use of Variable Speed Drives, we have been able to generate useable power at quite low flow levels (whilst also maintaining the agreed cosmetic flow level over the Weir).
The screenshot above is of course of what we are transmitting at our end of the1km cable. Siemens have measured the power being received at their end (which is the metric they use for calculating payment) and we are pleasantly happy that the cable losses at 0.4% are below what we had worst case calculated.
You will recall from previous newsletters (and of course our Business Plan/Share Offering) that there is a secondary payment input under the OFGEM FiTs agreement. OFGEM have now fully approved our system and we can start claiming the FiTs payments—backdated to August 19th which is the date of the formal “we are ready notification”. Think one of the previous newsletters mentioned that SSE (Scottish and Southern Electricity) would act as our metering and payment “conduit” for Fits and we are now waiting for SSE to set up the necessary contracts etc. Once this has all been processed, they will set up meter reading requests every 3 months, with payments 30 days after that.
To put all this into monetary terms, once the meter readings and invoicing are running smoothly, we will be generating a combined income of 22p per Kwhr—so the 30MWhrs to date represents about £6600—-long may it continue!!
Of course, the source of all this energy is Havannah Weir and Archie. You will be interested in this new view below which show both together.
Havannah Weir, Archimedes Screw and Powerhouse
(Our grateful thanks to Pam and Barry Day for their kind permission to use their property to capture this great scene)
The above photograph was taken whilst accompanying a professional PR/Video company who were filming on behalf of the Northwest Energy Hub. Congleton Hydro had been selected as one of the 10 Innovative “clean energy” sites in the Northwest that would form a video collage to be shown at COP26. Four hours of intensive camera work, videoing from a Drone and audio summaries will be condensed into a one-minute collage of Congleton Hydro, Mike Donaghy from Pulsemedia TV has agreed to provide us with the edited footage (and hopefully other shots)—we will add to a link in a future newsletter.
Since the above photograph was taken, we have made great strides in Cladding the Powerhouse. Even the most agile and daring of us could not contemplate the hazards of cladding the front (screw) face without the comparative safety of working from suitable scaffolding. The two sides and screw face are now completed will be stained “brownish” in the next week or so. Once the new doors to the powerhouse are finally supplied and fitted (how long is a piece of string !!) we can then finish the cladding on the back face.
Our grateful thanks to the Volunteers (who also bring their own tools with them) for all their superb help with installing the cladding — Well Done guys.
During the cladding process we “invented” various techniques that improved our productivity e.g., rubbing the “tongue” with Soap—only Pears soap of course!! (The cladding tongue not ours!!), just initially securing with a “bottom screw” –to leave some movement on the top tongue so the next groove is easier to fit and so on. Productivity (you can tell we are all Engineers) improved from taking about one hour to fit the first “cladding plank” to shelling them out like peas for the final boards! One of the big issues we encountered was not so much with the cladding but with securing the battens to the walls. Having taken professional advice—Google searching!!! we decided to secure the battens using “no-plug” concrete screws. This will speed up the process we thought—just 6mm holes in the blocks and away we go. However, the blocks whilst being quite heavy and solid are also very powdery when drilled and this powder just clogged up the holes making it impossible to drive in the screws. Our initial solution was to use a thin piece of electrical sleeving (being safety conscious—yellow and green earth sleeving !!) and a bit of puff to clear out the clogging muck—this worked but with the horrible (and dangerous) side effect of the puffer’s face getting covered in dust. So, after an intensive R&D process we evolved the Dane Valley Puffer.
“No plug” Concrete Screw and Dane Valley Puffer
The puffer worked really well, insert into drilled hole, quick squeeze and bingo—no more crap and most importantly no blow back into face and eyes.
Easy to make—puffer ball £2 for two from amazon. 3mm “blow tube” (the ink tube from a biro cleaned out—still got ink on my hands from this cleaning process!!), an “adapter piece” from a piece of drinking straw (paper not plastic) and some suitable sizes of heat shrink sleeving to couple it all together —local, European, and worldwide sales and distribution rights are available for a suitable large number of £££ notes.
At long last we have improved the security of the access to the site by installing a fence and gate to the boardwalk entrance. Constructed from “prison grade” V-mesh not only does it improve security, but it looks a zillion times neater than the Heras fencing lash up we’ve had for the last 6months or so.
Secure Access to the Boardwalk
The Main Interpretation Board for the whole scheme will be secured to the left-hand fence. This is now (along with the other interpretation boards) in its final design iteration with the manufacturer and will be with us soon (More info on all the interpretation boards in a future newsletter)
Now we are well into Autumn with the start of increasingly inclement weather, the trash screen protecting the water inlet is doing its job by preventing all matter of debris—large branches, rucks and rucks of twigs and leaves, plastic bags and other man-made debris and soccer balls (we’ve so far had three!) getting through and giving Archie severe indigestion! How many times a week it will need clearing we have yet to find out.
Clogged up Trash Screen
The above was essentially two days’ worth of flotsam and jetsam. If you think it looks bad, it is even worse a few feet down—even beavers could not have constructed a better dam—a solid mass of interwoven branches, twigs and leaves. Once cleared (using a rake—we need to get some with longer handles) a question was answered for us. For a few days we had noticed that our generated power had dropped by a couple of kW—well it was the trash restricting the flow, especially the “linear flow” at the bottom of the inlet pipe. Trash cleared; generated power recovered. Keeping the trash screen clear is an essential maintenance routine and we would love to hear from any potential volunteers who might be able to help with this regular activity. Working in at least pairs and reasonably fit, full training and protective gear provided. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Our Trash however is nowhere near as glamorous as that of Stockport Hydro.
One morning, volunteers came to clear out the trash and this is what they found:
Stockport Hydro Trash Blockage
(Photo courtesy of Stockport Hydro)
It seems that Police had been chasing a stolen car and it tried to “leap the weir” !! Will need some really big rakes to clear that out!!
During the last week of October, to co-incide with the start of COP26, Congleton held its own Green Fair. We publicised Congleton Hydro with a stand and were inundated with interest. We took the opportunity to offer some site visits and developed the base of a booking system to enable these. We think that max of 5people in a group for 45mins ie 1hour slots seems to work OK. Our learning from these few visits – guide availability, common script etc, location details, where to park—no parking to be allowed near site—15min walk from Congleton Park etc, have given us confidence to set up in the next few weeks an online booking system for investors and other interested parties. More info in next month’s newsletter.
As usual, we hope you have found this newsletter to be of interest and informative. We are always keen to receive feedback and especially suggestions for improvement and further information—email@example.com
With best wishes from the Congleton Hydro Team