Turbine running reliably

We carried out a major plant upgrade in the autumn of 2020. The initial impetus was to repair damage from the floods earlier in the year and to carry out changes to our grid connection relay as required by changes in the grid code. We intended to use this opportunity to rewire and re-site our control panel and to upgrade our control technology,

In the event, the overhaul of the plant we carried out was significantly more complex than envisioned. Some more details are given below. The headline is however that the plant is now running more reliably and at a higher output level than ever before. Our initial aim was to seek reliable operation at 5 kW, and our hope was that over time we might be able to increase that somewhat. We are delighted to say that since restarting the system of December 7th we have seen largely stable operation at an output of around 11 kW (rising to 13kW as a maximum on occasion).

The core work was carried out by Derwent Hydro, with the very helpful assistance of NSCH members: Jon Halle, Jerry Turnbull, Chris Deaves and John Sandison. The step change in performance has depended also on our landowners at Tetstill, Kevin and Querida Flook. Not only did they help us during the installation phase but we now have an operational agreement whereby they keep the hydro screen clean and carry out other operational tasks in exchange for a share of income. We thank both our site team and our landowners for going above and beyond the call of duty on numerous occasions.

The combined effect of improved equipment and improved operational support has been remarkable. Up to 7 December 2020 point the plant had generated 22,756 kWh in total. In the 2 months following that date we added another 14,000 kWh! This is despite the recurrent flood spikes which have obliged us to halt the hydro on 4 separate occasions.

The works were funded partly by grant funds and partly by a short-term loan from Sharenergy which we are now working to pay off. It is too early to guess what the long term financial outcomes will be for members, but what is certain is that our collective effort is now generating very low-carbon energy on the scale we envisaged right back in 2011 when we started work on this project.

List of major works carried out:

  • Re-siting of control panel to cabinet outside garage (NSCH team built a new concrete plinth for this purpose)
  • Upgrade of control system to SCS MK2 with remote monitoring and control
  • Replacement of grid connect relay to meet latest standards
  • Replacement of generator (previous generator had been more damaged by floods than we supposed and we replaced with spare that Milson Airstrip had kindly been keeping for us for many years)
  • Rewiring of much of the installation
  • Replacement of drive belts
  • Replacement and redesign of lubrication system
  • Installation of additional metering
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About Jon Halle

Jon is a co-founder of the Big Solar Co-op and of Sharenergy Co-operative
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