Can you build a cheap hydro? We have questions not answers and need help!


We have some funding to build a ‘cheap’ (in price not quality) pico hydro (<5kw). Can this be done? My conceptions before really looking into it are

  1. What is cheap? Is this per KWp installed or is this KWh over its life?
  2.  Does cheap mean inefficient?
  3. Does cheap mean a lot of future maintenance? Durability?
  4. With the new FiT rate for sub 100kw hydro so low does it still make sense?
  5. Will the consenting process be a disproportionate % of the overall spend (eg 1.5kw stream engine is £1500 and so is an abstraction licence) but the abstraction licence cost is the same for a £15m hydro

Thanks to some secured funding from a donation we are looking at developing a Pico hydro at one of our office sites to reduce costs, create a small amount of income but also to demonstrate the viability or not of a pico hydro. In theory in the hilly bits it should produce 4 x more energy per Kwp annum than a PV system.

In essence we are looking for help to test the case? Is it a mater of simply engaging an engineer to design and commission and we do the middle bit? Do we go to the builders merchants for the middle bit in terms of material? can we make the weir and intake out of timber? do we pre-fab? can we use multiple 63mm pipe and then live with the efficiency drop?

we would really like to work with some volunteers who either want to put their expertise in or to gain some understanding from the process.  We have some ideas! We need more! Let us know if your interested?

Some of the ideas floating around at the moment!

Some of the ideas floating around at the moment!

This entry was posted in Hydro, uncategorized, Wales and tagged environmental, Fit for the future, hydro, Keith Jones, National Trust, National Trust Blog, Paul Southall, Pico Hydro, sustainability, Wales, water. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Can you build a cheap hydro? We have questions not answers and need help!

  1. Keith,
    If you’ve not already come across them you might want to have a look at for the turbine.
    Having met Michael a few years ago, I can say without doubt that he is certainly dedicated to the hydro cause.

  2. David Hooper says:

    Great idea Keith! There are loads of us searching for these answers on our own and without the ‘clout’ of the Trust. Keep us posted and Happy New Year. Diolch yn fawr,

  3. Keith Stoops says:

    Hi Keith,

    Hope you are well and had a good Christmas and happy new Year.

    I would be interested in getting involved and can see benefits going forward​, especially of it could be linked to RAM pump arrangement to recirculate and thus generate further electricity.

    There are contacts at the Liverpool Universities that maybe interested as well, but I don’t know who you are already talking to.

    Happy to discuss, and I hope to catch up with Paul in the near future at Penrhyn, so maybe we could talk then.

    Regards Keith Stoops

    Keith Stoops, CEng, MICE, CMIWEM, MIWO, Director – Operational Support Services Limited Email

  4. Peter Hill says:

    Hi Keith, sure – I can help with that. We’ve installed several very small (less than 2kW) schemes round here. See for more details – contact us form on that goes to me, happy to run through the systems and process we used.

  5. Richard L Havard says:

    Would be happy to become involved. Recently retired from building hands on science exhibits and have skills and workshop available near Cardiff for such an interesting project. Please keep me informed.

    • Keith Jones says:

      thanks for the email. in short… yes!

      working on attracting more funding for the the whole project to share with people. watch this space!

  6. says:

    Hi Keith

    I’m interested. Have MBA in Env Mgt (Bangor) and accountancy qualification, so happy to offer skills in number crunching etc and interested in learning more about the technology having visited Hafod y Llyn and followed your bulletins.

    Martin Hughes

  7. Hertha says:

    Hey, You might be interested in using this free web app for hydropower modelling to reduce costs of feasibility and get inputs for licenses applications

    • Keith Jones says:

      Thanks for this. I have played with it a bit before. Engaging with the stat bodies now to see how much info is just enough! Thanks again

  8. Bob Irving says:

    An alternative method for acquiring hydropower is from the river flow like this The house we own in the Rheidol valley used them for some years, but lost the lot in a winter flood. Is this another possibility for your study? It would assist all of us who live beside larger rivers like the Rheidol but don’t own streams on our property…

  9. Giulio Mescia says:

    Hello Keith,
    I’m a MSc student at the Centre for Alternative Technology, the place where I’ve first heard of you. I’m really interested in small scale and cheap, possibly community based, renewable energy projects and that’s why this project sounds really interesting to me.

    Firstly, I’d be interested as I’m looking for a dissertation topic. Maybe comparing the financial and environmental impact of the project with a similar size PV scheme can be an idea, but that’s just the first things that comes in my mind. If you have any other specific issue you’d like to investigate maybe I could help.

    In any case, (dissertation or not) I’d be happy to contribute in some way (volounteering?) as I’ll be glad to learn in a practical way how to do. Thank you



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