Neen Sollars Community Hydro is building a 12.5kW hydroelectric installation at Tetstill Mill, Neen Sollars on the River Rea. The project is funded by a co-operative share issue and owned by local people. It will produce green electricity to the local electrical grid, providing around 20% of the domestic power use in Neen Sollars.
- practical generation of green electricity
- local involvement in owning and running a renewable generation system
- awareness raising and education in the local area
- a modest annual income for a local charity
- entirely conceived and executed by local people
- working alongside wider attempts to improve the ecological status of the Rea
The turbine house is finished and the capture ring is in place – this is the interface between the turbine and its housing. The draft tube will be next – this is the outflow of the turbine – we have agreed a slight shape modification which will increase efficiency. After that the propellor itself and the generator will go in – this should take a couple more weeks and we will be ready to make power from the rain now falling!
Some great pictures from site showing the sluice gate in place and the precision concrete housings for the turbine – you can clearly see the hole in which it will sit. We are expecting the first parts of the turbine to go in shortly.
The project has nearly spent the 70% of its share capital required to apply for the SEED EIS forms and will be doing so soon – members in the habit of filling in tax forms early may wish to wait for these!
A story covering the delays with some good pictures of the installation in progress is here:
A lot of work has been going on at Tetstill – perhaps not spectacular but necessary work to prepare the wheel pit for the turbine enclosure. Some redesign of the enclosure itself has been necessary to make sure the generator and control gear are adequately protected from floods. All this has meant that we are slightly behind schedule – still on for April turbine installation however. The pictures show the underpinning and strengthening of both wheel pits. We think the stone facing looks excellent – we are creating the heritage of the future after all…
Installation work continues at a good pace, despite inevitable delays caused by the near-constant floods for the last few months, now alternating with periods of low temperatures which mean concrete work cannot be carried out.
The cofferdam upstream and downstream is holding well despite the River Rea flowing fast over the last two months, the tailrace is now largely completed with gabion baskets, and work has started in the original wheel pit strengthening walls and making the concrete structure for housing turbine and generator. NSCH has already contracted a local electrician to prepare for the generator installation and dovetail the necessary work connecting to grid. We reckon to be generating around Easter at this rate.
After completing work on the tailrace and a break to allow completion of the salmon run, we are now working on the sluice area – removing silt from the floods and preparing to excavate the turbine tailrace and prepare the concrete box in which the turbine will sit. In the New Year we will be getting to the high-tech bit!
We have now finished the work widening and strengthening the tailrace, which will be taking a greater flow than it does now. Work on site will stop for a while, until mid-December. This is so that we do not impede or disturb the salmon run – work in the tailrace area was permitted, but the next stage will see us working at the weir to install the new sluices and the turbine itself.
At long last following the recent floods we have finally been successful in placing the coffer dams at the sluice gate and the tailrace exit . There still remain some small water leaks but we are reasonably confident that these can be contained. Indeed it has been water ingress across the coffer dam (now buttressed with several hundred sand bags) that has been the main problem plus the weather which has caused two delays (the first storm on Sept 23-24 brought water up to the window sills of the mill but scoured off a lot of the silt from the July 13-14 flood).
The next step will be to commence work assoon as possible on tailrace excavation and bank reinforcement. Key work on the turbine area cannot commence until the main salmon run on the fish pass ends on December 10th. This will most probably delay the commissioning period about two months until late January/early February, 2013.
The pictures from September 24 give some idea of why we had delays!
Our hydro installation will go ahead as planned despite some of the worst floods in the Rea for around 60 years. Many people will have seen news reports of the severe floods at Neen Sollars. As well as the damage to the road bridge, there was severe flooding at the Mill itself. The Co-op extends its heartfelt sympathy to John Bettinson who has sustained damage to house and garden.
With regard to the hydro project, the NSCH Board have been reviewing the designs and schedule. The installation has always been designed to cope with floods of this magnitude. The biggest problem is debris – ultimately the solution lies in management of the whole catchment, but we need to make sure our equipment is well protected and will be making some design improvements to help cope with the possibility of more frequent severe flooding. We remain on schedule to install this Autumn and start generating early in 2013 – more detail will be supplied as available – watch this space.
The share allocations have finally been finished and the share certificates sent out. The project has been remarkably successful in getting local support with over 90% of members coming from within 30 miles of the site. A deposit has been paid on a turbine from Ampair and the civil works are being planned so everything is ready for the final installation later in the year.