This has always bugged me that small peco hydro’s are so expensive per Kwp (sub 10kw) but why is this? You see figures of £10,ooo to £15,000 per kw to install. Why is this? Every time we hold a show and tell day on our hydros i get the what we now call the “i have a stream’ question. “I have a stream and can I build a hydro?”. My answer usually encompasses “be ready for a long haul, frustration and uncertainty all the way”
- In the uplands of the UK farm houses, farms, cottages and communities are located next to flowing water. This makes sense for water supply and quite often energy.
- A kw of hydro installed capacity can generate up to four times more energy per annum than the equivalent PV system.
- quite often these streams in the uplands are in designated areas and therefore the precautionary principle should always apply
- the process for evaluation for a 1kw hydro and a 5,000 kw hydro is more or less the same
- taking the above facts into consideration. The cost of approval as a % of overall cost is staggering for micro and peco hydros (same goes for grid upgrade)
- because the process is the same you need the same high cost specialists for the whole project from peco to big hydros. You always need a specialist to help but knowing when and for how long is the trick
- Precautionary principal and its interpretation by all sorts of specialists is a non exact science and micro projects can be the victim of differing opinion
- No single body, technology or process is to blame but combined at the moment and its a problem
put these facts together and you end up huge untapped potential, a cottage industry in manufacturing and installation, an area ripe for simplification but only the most dedicated, hard-headed individual usually develops peco hydros.
The National Trust has recently submitted a European Union Horizon 20/20 bid to look into this area in detail. If successful this will involve developing 5 peco systems on one of our Snowdonia farms. Highlighting the economics, processes, duplication, opportunities, blocks, working with stake holders and statutory bodies and sharing these lessons. The ideal is to look at process simplification, cost savings and also some clarity i.e. no you should not and yes you should develop. Peco might still be a problem area in the end but at least i hope things will be a bit clearer (always the optimist!) Now lets wait and see?