Think I need some bigger lungs for this latest on the National Trust Wales hydro list. If you’ve been following the blog you’ll know that we are both building hydros but also quite busy on the hydro prospecting front. In the Ogwen valley we have been looking at what looks like a good hydro site. The site is outside of the SSSi (which is unusual in Snowdonia) we have a conifer plantation along most of the pipe route, good accessible powerhouse location, grid connection is only a few feet away and an accessible 4×4 track close the weir point. But this is also a very very steep site. 200m of head and only 700m of length.That brings with it new engineering challenges (we need to think something around pulling this pipe down the mountain through the conifer) lets see!
So it looks like the hydro components for a sub 100kw system are relatively simple or should we say manageable. Ah that should make us nervous. It’s not the big stuff which seems to catch you out. It’s the small stuff! Having had a look at a few hydros in this area the river itself looks like a nice niche habitat to me. Looks like good Bryophyte country and I have a feeling we might find something special in the tumbling gorges but lets see.
The site also lends itself to some value added aspect. The Ogwen valley is a bit denuded of trees and this site from what I have seen is the last bit. The National Trusts intention is to slowly change this woodland from a dense and dark spruce and larch woodland into a more open broad leaf one. The issue is one of abstraction of the trees – how to pull them off the steep mountain? The site is so steep and difficult access it makes the conifers incredibly uneconomic and this is where the hydro could help. One of the ideas on the table is to open up access in the woodland for the public to ‘have a walk in the wood’ and by improving the access with a narrow track it will make the hydro easier to build but also due to this easier access the conversion of the woodland to broad leaf so much easier. (win, win, win) Added to this one of the more fanciful ideas is around mountain bikes but that’s for another day (200m drop and 700m long…not for me!) More to come from this site. But first lest see what the ecological interest looks like along that river!