[section title=”Micro hydro”]
Before the arrival of reliable mains electricity in the Brecon Beacons, many landowners relied on private micro hydro schemes to generate electricity.
Now, with rising energy prices and the incentive of Feed-In Tariff payments, micro hydro is once again a viable option, and a key part of our strategy to make Llangattock a carbon negative community.
[section title=”Why micro hydro?”]
There are three very good reasons for choosing micro hydro:
1. Good annual rainfall and plenty of steep hillside streams make micro hydro the natural choice for generating sustainable renewable energy in the Brecon Beacons.
2. Micro hydro is small scale, so it has a very low visual and environmental impact.
3. Micro hydro uses tried-and-tested technology, proven over many years.
[section title=”Where we are at”]
Initial feasibility work begins using funding provided through the British Gas Green Streets Competition. Five potential streams identified.
LGV wins the British Gas Green Streets competition, securing £100,000 to develop community micro hydro.
Summer 2011 – Autumn 2013
Further feasibility work whittles the five streams down to three. Of these, one is taken forward privately by the landowner. The remaining two schemes for phase 1 – Cwm Gu and Llwmws – go into development through our trading arm, LGV Ventures, in partnership with the landowners.
Llangattock Green Valleys Micro Hydro (1) Co-operative Ltd successfully raises the full £270,000 needed to fund the development and construction costs of the two schemes, with construction on track to start in summer 2014.
Llangattock Green Valleys Micro Hydro (2) Co-operative Ltd launches, with a share offer target of £690,000 to build a further four schemes. Micro Hydro (1) schemes receive planning permission from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.
Spring 2014 onwards
Development work continues on other streams, which are set to become the subject of future share offers.
MH-1’s first AGM is held. LGV welcomes two new directors, Mike Proctor and Miriam Griffiths to the Board.
MH-2 share offer scheme closes to investors.
Construction starts at our first MH-1 scheme Cwm Gu, on the Glanusk Estate and the penstock pipe is delivered to site. We now have full permission and licensing for our first MH-2 scheme Nant yr Hafod, above the Clydach Gorge. Planning permission is granted with some conditions for the Gargwy Fach scheme.
The turbine house base is complete and the penstock pipe for the lower half of the Cwm Gu scheme is joined together, dragged into position and trenched.
Full planning permission and licensing is granted for LGV’s MH-2 schemes, Gargwy Fach and Nant y Gadair.
Planning permission is refused for Blaen Dyar.
Cwm Gu’s turbine house structure is now complete.
The intake at Cwm Gu is now complete.
Cwm Gu trenching work for the penstock pipe in the upper section is complete, the turbine is installed and the output electricity pole with transformer is in position.
Electrics and meter are installed and the environmental improvements are complete at Cwm Gu. The construction of our Nant yr Hafod scheme is now well underway. The main excavation and rock cut back has been completed, all the pipework is on site and has been partly joined and concreting work has started. The turbine house slab was cast last week and the structure itself will be erected next month.
The official commissioning date for LGV MH-1’s Cwm Gu, is 23rd June 2015.
The Gargwy Fach scheme is shelved due to a landowner withholding consent for the erection of a pole to export the electricity.
The planning application decision for the amended Blaen Dyar scheme is now expected on 31st July, and LGV has the necessary drainage consent.
Talks begin with the landowner of Abernant, near Builth Wells, regarding the feasibility of hydro.
Revised application for Blaen Dyar receives planning permission.
The intake and turbine house are almost complete and all the penstock pipe is in place at Nant yr Hafod, and the DNO service cable is in place from the grid pole into the turbine house.
A Partnership Agreement has been drawn up and signed to concrete our relationship with Welcome To Our Woods, our partners for the proposed Cwm Saebren (MH-2) hydro scheme.
MH-1 receives its first FITs payment.
Nant yr Hafod is granted full FIT accreditation.
LGV MH-1 and MH-2 are now supporting active micro hydro schemes at Cwm Gu and Nant yr Hafod and will develop a further three schemes during 2016/2017. Preliminary FIT accreditation for Abernant granted and the full accreditation application process has been started. Access arrangements and planning permission for Cwm Saebren has been secured from landowner, NRW.
The landowner lease is being drawn up for the Cwm Saebren scheme, in liaison with NRW.
LGV has signed the contracts and paid deposits to TGVH and the DNO for the Abernant scheme. Construction is scheduled to start in the summer of 2017.
Our construction company TGVH is continuing to gauge the water flow at the intake of Cwm Gu, in preparation for applying to NRW for an adjustment to the HoF notch height, so that we can take more water from this stream.
LGV signs a wide ranging partnership agreement with Welcome to Our Woods (WtOW).
We received confirmation from OFGEM this month of preliminary FIT registration for Cwm Saerbren.
TGVH now has sufficient flow data for Cwm Gu and has commissioned a hydrology company to write a report to support an application to NRW to raise the HoF notch.
The lease for Cwm Saebren has been completed and we will start building the scheme later this year.
LGV welcomes Leona Jones and Penny Hallas as HYDRO artists in residence.
We had a couple of weeks of persistent rain at the beginning of the month and the power output at Cwm Gu reached close to maximum levels for the first time since February 2016.
Construction work at Blaen Dyar begins. For more news on the construction of Blaen Dyar, please sign up to our newsletter and visit our dedicated pages: Construction News and Artists in Residence.
A legal partnership is formed with Welcome to Our Woods (WtOW) to proceed with micro hydro at Cwm Saebren, Treherbert – planning permission is granted and leases are signed.
Construction orders for both the planned MH-2 micro hydro schemes, Cwm Saebren and Abernant, have been signed and deposits paid. Construction of both schemes should start within the next 6 months.
There was less than half the average UK rainfall this month.
TGVHydro received the hydrology report for Cwm Gu which indicates that the water flow through the turbine house could be increased. They are running some in-house models to support the findings of the report prior to submitting the revised HoF notch application to NRW.
Penstock pipe and other materials are delivered to the Blaen Dyar construction site and a fallen tree removed.
Hydro Artists in Residence, Penny Hallas and Leona Jones, start the initial research phase of their work by following the installation work at Blaen Dyar site to gather material related to hydro technology and the landscape in which it is situated.
A lot of comment appears in the media about the winter of 2016/17 being the driest on record for over 20 years. May is also dry.
Discussions take place between TGVHydro and NRW prior to an application submission to adjust the size of the HoF notch.
Co-op hydro AGMs are held on Monday 5th June at The Old Rectory Hotel, Llangattock.
Voting is unanimous from both co-ops for the part purchase of Blaen Dyar by MH-2 from MH-1 and the transfer process starts. Money from MH-2 will be used to cover MH-1’s expenditure on Blaen Dyar up until the point of transfer.
There have been some short periods of rain, but the forecast is dry for June.
TGVHydro submits the HoF notch adjustment application to NRW.
NRW requests that further flow gauging is carried out at Cwm Gu to support the application.
Penstock at Blaen Dyar has been fully joined and dragged in to position, the impoundment and intake area nears completion, the turbine house is built and the main electrical work completed.
There have been some short periods of rain but it’s been mainly warm and dry so there has been very little generation at Nant yr Hafod (MH-2) and none at Cwm Gu (MH-1) this month.
As a result flow gauging has not started at Cwm Gu.
The low water levels have also revealed a small hole at the intake of Cwm Gu – TGVHydro has been asked to repair this as soon as possible.
Construction of the Blaen Dyar scheme (MH-2) is nearing completion.
The regional electricity operator, Western Power, has carried out their major works and LGV is now waiting for EoN to change the meter from single to split phase and reposition it in the new kiosk. The turbine house is almost complete and a date will soon be set for final testing.
LGV is in discussions with Western Power about the two remaining MH-2 schemes, Abernant and Cwm Saerbren, which will be built before the end of the year.
There have been some periods of rain and both Nant yr Hafod (MH-2) and Cwm Gu (MH-1) generated some small amounts of electricity towards the end of last month.
TGVHydro have repaired the hole at Cwm Gu’s intake and they are continuing to flow gauge at the Hands-off flow notch, to provide additional data to support the NRW application. They are also flow gauging at Nant yr Hafod as part of a wider project to collect data to support a change in the way HoF notch sizes are calculated.
Last week LGV completed and commissioned Blaen Dyar (MH-2). In the first couple of days there was just enough water to start the turbines turning before the water level dropped again.
Work has started at Abernant (MH-2) and is progressing well. The penstock pipe has been delivered and joined and work has begun on the intake. The scheme’s size had initially been restricted because there was no spare export capacity in the local electricity Grid, however, LGV has been informed by Western Power that a wind farm in mid-Wales has failed to obtain planning permission and so the Grid capacity allocated to that scheme has been released. As a result, the restriction has been fully lifted and all electricity generated by the Abernant scheme will now go to the Grid.
Preparation work has been started at Cwm Saerbren (MH-2) – the 700 metres of 280mm penstock pipe will be delivered in the next couple of weeks and will then be joined and dragged into position. Work will also begin on the concrete intake structure.
Flow gauging at Cwm Gu (MH-1) has been completed. Comparison data from a local donor gauging station is needed before the hydrologists can complete their report. Frustratingly, there was no generation at Cwm Gu this month, with the water level consistently rising to near the top of the intake weir but not triggering the scheme to start generating.
There has been a small amount of generation at Nant yr Hafod and also at the new MH-2 Blaen Dyar scheme. The snagging and other issues at this site are all completed and the official hand-over takes place with some instruction from TGVHydro.
Construction of the Abernant scheme (MH-2) is ahead of schedule and commissioning maybe possible within the next two weeks. As usual, there have been some challenging issues to overcome but the various contractors and authorities have worked well together and this scheme should be handed over to LGV MH-2 next month.
Progress has also been good at Cwm Saerbren (MH-2). The penstock has been delivered and its location marked out, the concrete intake structure has been built and a contract has been signed to construct the reinforced concrete turbine house. This scheme is also on track to be commissioned before the end of the year.
Artists in Residence, Penny Hallas and Leona Jones’ research phase nears completion.
The LGV-MH2 Board agrees to help fund the next phase of this arts project, which is to develop an audio-visual installation for display in a local arts venue in April 2018. In partnership with LGV, the artists apply for match funding from a grant-funding body to support the public presentation.
Total generation at Cwm Gu (MH-1) at the end of October stands at approximately 94,000 kWhs.
The hydro schemes have been generating close to capacity for some days this month. Water has been running off the basin that feeds the Cwm Gu scheme (MH-1) and its turbines have been busy. The comparative flow data from NRW to support the HoF notch application for Cwm Gu has been received and the hydrologists are producing their report.
In mid-October the Nant yr Hafod scheme (MH-2) was in flood to such an extent that the intake screen could hardly be seen. Similarly, Blaen Dyar (MH-2) had a lot of flow and was generating well. The final data and files for Blaen Dyar have been submitted to OFGEM for the conversion of LGV’s initial FITs application to full permission – once this is granted, LGV can start receiving FITs payments.
The third MH-2 scheme, Abernant, is commissioned and is generating well.
LGV and the Artists in Residence receive investment from A&B Cymru’s CultureStep Investment Programme to strengthen and develop their creative partnership.
All the operational hydro schemes have been generating electricity.
Total generation at Cwm Gu (MH-1) at the end of December was approximately 113,000 kWhs.
LGV receives the hydrologist’s report regarding the flow at Cwm Gu and instructs TGVHYDRO to submit the report along with a licence variation form to NRW, to request a reduction in the size of the HoF notch.
NRW has indicated that they are likely to keep the abstraction regime at a 90/10% split, which is positive news. If the proposals are accepted, the changes should lead to an overall increase in flow through the Cwm Gu scheme and greater generation potential.
Nant yr Hafod (MH-2) continues to generate steadily and at the end of last month the total generation was close to 74,700 kWhs. It is clear that the marshy peatland surrounding this scheme has caused a build-up of brown deposits on the inside of the penstock pipe and also in the turbine. To combat this LGV purchases some hydro ‘pigs’, which are made of polyurethane and will be used to clean the inside of the penstock pipe.
The generation total at Blaen Dyar (MH-2) at the end of its first full month of operation stood at 2,700 kWhs.
Local volunteers agree to help monitor and maintain Blaen Dyar and Abernant.
Some teething problems are experienced at the Abernant hydro scheme which involves LGV, TGVHYDRO and the manufacturers attending site to assess the cause of the problems, which are now fixed.
The construction of Cwm Saerbren, (final MH-2 scheme), is progressing well and the sinking penstock pipe is stabilised. Western Power informs LGV that that the outstanding S37 consent for them to be able to carry out their electric works has been granted. They have already visited site to assess the project and they expect to start work during the first week of this month.
Artists in Residence, Penny Hallas and Leona Jones’ calendar of events for April 2018 comes together.
There have been several good rainy spells this month and all the hydro schemes have been generating some decent amounts of electricity.
Total generation at Cwm Gu (MH-1) at the end of January stands at approximately 125,500 kWhs. There have been a couple of minor technical problems with this scheme which are now resolved. NRW’s consent for the changes to the HoF notch are received – work will be carried out by TGVHydro when the weather is more suitable.
The generation total at Blaen Dyar (MH-2) at the end of December stands at 11,000 kWhs. This scheme developed a fault with the spear valve/actuator unit before Christmas and so the turbine manufacturer visited the site and fitted a new actuator under the warranty.
The total electricity generated by Nant yr Hafod (MH-2) at the end of last year was around 80,000 kWhs. The pigs are delivered for cleaning inside the penstock pipe which will be carried out later in the year.
LGV’s newest scheme at Abernant (MH-2) had generated almost 17,000 kWhs by the end of 2017, which is encouraging news despite some technical problems and slight damage to the turbine house roof caused by a large fallen tree, brought down by the recent gales.
The final hydro scheme, Cwm Saerbren (MH-2), is nearing completion. The turbine house is almost complete, much of the electrics are done and the meter is fitted. The next task is to finish inside the turbine house and to commission the scheme, with the hand-over to LGV MH-2 and partner group Welcome to Our Woods scheduled for 13th February.
Artists in Residence, in conjunction with LGV, submit the arts project for consideration to A&B Cymru Awards 2018 under three categories: Arts, Business and the Community; Arts and Small Business; Arts, Business and the Environment.
There is a fair amount of rain, snow and freezing temperatures locally, which tests monitoring equipment and means our volunteers can’t get to some of our schemes for a week, but overall it is another decent month of electricity generation.
Total generation (approx.) in kWhs at the end of February:
Cwm Gu: 132,225
Nant yr Hafod: 89,674
Blaen Dyar: 25,324
Cwm Saerbren: 3,000
The final MH-2 hydro scheme, Cwm Saerbren in Treherbert in the Welsh Valleys, is commissioned and generating electricity. This is the largest and most costly scheme, developed in partnership with a local community group Welcome to Our Woods.
A community celebration day is planned for later in the month and members of both community organisations will attend. The scheme has already attracted a visit from Wales Assembly Member for Environment Hannah Blythyn, who made a business rates announcement from near the Cwm Saerbren turbine house and featured on BBC Wales News.
The manufacturer of a faulty spear valve at Cwm Gu services and replaces it and it is generating at full power again.
The generation total at Blaen Dyar (MH-2) at the end of January stands at 20,700 kWhs and at Nant yr Hafod around 87,000 kWhs.
Abernant’s (MH-2) RCD is regularly tripping and TGVHydro’s electrician will replace this. The total generation at end of January stands at 24,700 kWhs.
Two of our new schemes have not reached the predicted peak power since commissioning at the end of last year, despite plenty of flow through the schemes. LGV is in discussions with TGVHydro about the reasons for this and possible solutions and they are considering whether boring new nozzles in the spear valves will solve the problem.
The persistent recent rain is good for hydro generation, with all 5 schemes performing reliably and productively this month.
Total generation in kWhs at the end of March are approximately:
Cwm Gu: 148,880
Nant yr Hafod: 94,750
Blaen Dyar: 33,290
Cwm Saerbren: 14,300
A major regional power failure in the Clydach Gorge area halted operation of both Blaen Dyar and Nant yr Hafod this month, affecting generation to some extent and knocking out the video monitoring system.
OFGEM agrees the FITs conversion for Cwm Saerbren and LGV applies to get the scheme registered for FITs payments with their electricity company Ecotricity. At the scheme, LGV’s partners Welcome to our Woods get to grips with monitoring and recording data from the scheme. There is still some snagging work to be carried out but the ground is too wet for some of the remaining jobs to be completed.
April is another very wet month in Wales and the five hydro schemes generate decent amounts of electricity. Total generation (approx.) in kWhs at the end of April:
Cwm Gu: 163,230
Nant yr Hafod: 101,630
Blaen Dyar: 42,890
Cwm Saerbren: 28,470
NRW approves the HoF notch adjustment application at Cwm Gu and issues a new abstraction licence. The changes should result in slightly more water flowing through the system and higher electricity generation. The work includes creation of new fish passes which will need to be carried out after 15th May. Discussions with NRW and TGVH regarding the scope and details of the project are taking place.
Warmth and sunshine is balanced by less rain and a significant slowing of the hydro schemes since the end of April, with some schemes stopping completely for the first time for many weeks.
Total generation (approx.) in kWhs at the end of May for our schemes was approximately:
Cwm Gu: 163,537
Nant yr Hafod: 102,061
Blaen Dyar: 44,092
Cwm Saerbren: 31,422
At Cwm Gu, a site meeting is held with the Fish Officer from NRW and TGVHydro employees to agree and plan for the necessary changes at the intake involving. reduction in the size of the hands-off flow notch and creation of new fish passes below the intake wall. It is not thought that salmon would swim this far upstream but there is a chance that small brown trout may live here. The proposed minor changes now need to be agreed and signed off by NRW and, disappointingly, this could take until the end of the summer. However, the work should be carried out before the heavier Autumn rains come again (no works within the watercourse can take place between 15th October and 15th May, so careful management of these works is critical).
A very dry month.
LGV applies to Welsh Government for 100% relief from business rates for Cwm Gu, as a community-owned hydro scheme – all MH-2 schemes will also benefit from this decision.
LGV receives a pre-app response letter from NRW concerning the new fish easement at the Cwm Gu intake, indicating that they are happy with the revised design.
LGV submits an application for a minor variation with this design which is accepted and LGV gives the required 4 weeks’ notice that they plan to carry out the work week commencing 6th August.
The boards of LGV MH-1 and LGV MH-2 seek advice and are in discussions concerning a possible merger between the two Co-operatives. The directors of both boards think a merger will be in the long-term interests of the Societies and is likely to result in considerable savings in terms of ongoing costs and management time. It is likely that a formal vote on a merger proposal will be put to Members of the two Societies in October this year. If passed, the merger will take place at the end of 2018.
There is no generation for two months because of the dry weather.
Most of the hydro schemes have generated no electricity since mid-May, so income in the third quarter is likely to be very low. All the hydro schemes are modeled with the assumption that they will not generate electricity for some periods each year but this dry summer period is unusually long.
Total generation (approx.) in kWhs at the end of September:
Cwm Gu: 166,780
Nant yr Hafod: 103,570
Blaen Dyar: 45,900
Cwm Saerbren: 46,470
The heaviest rains fall for 30 years locally.
Total generation in kWhs of our five hydro schemes at the end of October was:
Cwm Gu: 168,820
Nant yr Hafod: 105,720
Blaen Dyar: 48,980
Cwm Saerbren: 53,210
Following Special General Meetings for both hydro Co-ops on 15th October and another ‘confirmation SGM’ on 12th November for LGV-MH1, Members of both societies voted unanimously in favour of the motion to merge the two societies. This is predicted to lower the ongoing running costs, lessen the burden on volunteer directors and Members involved in the governance and daily management of the Societies, unify the development activities of the two organisations and spread the risks for all Members between a larger portfolio of hydro schemes. Therefore the Board will seek approval for the merger from the Financial Conduct Authority and we are hopeful that the merger will take place at the end of 2018.
Total generation to date in kWhs at the end of November was:
Cwm Gu: 180,770
Nant yr Hafod: 110,020
Blaen Dyar: 55,770
Cwm Saerbren: 64,740
Our five hydro schemes benefitted from some fairly typical Welsh Autumn weather with several periods of persistent rain. The schemes have been relatively fault-free and have all generated decent amounts of electricity.
We are still awaiting a final response from the Financial Conduct Authority on the proposed merger of our two hydro Co-operatives but they have indicated they will sanction the merger. Therefore we have been working hard to ensure the merger is able to take place at the end of this month, which is also the financial year end for both Co-ops. The Boards wish to thank Members for their support and backing of the merger proposal and the directors look forward to a slightly reduced workload next year, with just one Society to manage and now that all five hydro schemes are operational.
The directors of both our micro hydro Co-operatives are pleased to announce that last month the FCA approved of the merger of the two organisations by transfer of engagements and so this became effective at the end of 2018, which coincided with the financial year end for both Co-ops. Therefore the assets and engagements of LGV-MH1 have been transferred to LGV-MH2 and we will be working to finalise the merger over the next couple of months. We will use the trading name ‘Llangattock Green Valleys Micro-hydro Co-op Ltd.’ for the merged organisation.
A prolonged period of rain in December meant that all five hydro schemes generated some good amounts of electricity. The month of December and the October-December quarter were our highest combined generation periods to date, although this is the first rainy season when all five schemes have been operating. Generation was as follows:
Generation last quarter (kWhs) Generation to date (kWhs):
Cwm Gu: 32,290 199,070
Nant yr Hafod: 14,690 118,250
Blaen Dyar: 19,220 65,120
Abernant: 21,230 73,240
Cwm Saerbren: 31,860 78,330
Unfortunately the first half of January has been quite dry but at least we haven’t had a Beast from the East, as last year.
We have experienced a fairly typical Welsh Winter to date, with a mixture of rainy and drier weeks. As a consequence, our five hydro schemes have all generated some decent amounts of electricity and we’ve only had one minor technical problem in the last few months, which was put right within 48 hours.
Generation was as follows:
January (kWhs) Generation to date (kWhs)
Cwm Gu: 8,580 207,650
Nant yr Hafod: 3,290 121,540
Blaen Dyar: 2,610 67,730
Abernant: 3,510 76,750
Cwm Saerbren: 8,700 87,030
Total (5 schemes) 26,670 560,700
Apart from implementing the merger of the two hydro Co-operatives, we’ve been working to establish Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with Co-op Energy, which we expect will give us a higher payment for the electricity we export to The Grid. This has involved a lot of form filling and also operational changes, such as adapting the export meters so that they can be read remotely on a half-hourly basis. Three of our hydro schemes already have operational PPAs and we expect to have the remaining two up and running next month.
Two of LGV’s directors now have rainfall stations in their gardens and so we can more accurately monitor rainfall locally. This year, February (95mm) was almost twice as wet as January (54mm) and March was wetter still. However, below is a graph of rainfall during the past three years and you can see that this January had significantly less rain than in the three previous years and there is significant variation throughout each year, with July having been the wettest month in 2017.
At the request of a shareholder, I will include some graphic representations of the performance of our hydro schemes in future newsletters, as I realise that some people prefer images to numbers. In February, generation at our five hydro schemes was as follows:
Monthly generation (kWhs) Total generation to date (kWhs)
Cwm Gu: 8,990 216,640
Nant yr Hafod: 4,010 125,550
Blaen Dyar: 4,930 72,660
Abernant: 6,360 83,110
Cwm Saerbren: 12,060 99,080
Total (5 schemes) 36,350
There was a power cut at Cwm Gu in March which affected generation but we managed to get the scheme operating again within 12 hours.
In today’s open electricity market, it is possible to have import, export and FITs with three different electricity companies and the rates paid and charged vary quite a bit. We have now switched all five hydro schemes to Co-op Energy for FITs and we have operational 12-month export Power Purchase Agreements in place for three schemes with the same company.
Monthly generation from our schemes has increased gradually since the start of this year although total generation during the quarter was down on the previous one. As promised last month, I have created the graph below to show monthly generation for each of our five hydro schemes during the last twelve months. This confirms what our band of volunteer meter readers know, which is that each scheme has a different character depending on factors such as location and soil types.
Our smallest scheme, Nant yr Hafod, has limestone but also some peaty reed beds above the intake weir and therefore usually takes longer to start generating after rain but will often run slightly longer than other schemes after rain has stopped. By comparison, much of Abernant was built on solid bedrock and this scheme generally starts generating more quickly after rain but often subsides faster as well. You can see that, for a couple of months last summer, there was no generation at any of our schemes, which is expected each year and is factored into the generation and income models.
Another factor affecting generation is the size of the ‘hands-off flow’ or ‘compensation flow’ notches built into the weirs, which is prescribed in our abstraction licences. These notches allow a certain volume of water to flow down the stream before any can be abstracted for the hydro scheme, so that plants and organisms can survive in the area known as the ‘depleted reach’, between where hydro schemes take water out from and then put it back into a stream.
April is known for its short, sharp showers and when rain falls persistently at low volumes or regularly for short periods, this can cause hydro schemes to stop and start continually which can lead to an increased number of problems and greater maintenance requirements for parts such as valves and the electronic controls.
It’s been relatively dry this month, with the hoped-for April showers not materialising with any great frequency. Therefore generation from our schemes has been sporadic, with more periods of turbine inactivity than generation. Last year, April was one of the wettest months of the year with total generation from our five hydro schemes of nearly 52,000 kWhs and, as you can see below, this year the schemes generated only 37% of last year’s total.
Generation was as follows:
April (kWhs) Generation to date (kWhs)
Cwm Gu: 6,480 237,610
Nant yr Hafod: 1,360 132,700
Blaen Dyar: 2,490 82,150
Abernant: 2,920 94,160
Cwm Saerbren: 5,940 119,860
Total (5 schemes) 19,190 666,480
Looking on the bright side, the schemes have been relatively trouble-free over the past 6 months and we’ve seen a definite increase in performance at Cwm Gu as a result of the changes we carried out last year to the Hands-off flow notch and intake weir.
This year’s AGM of the merged LGV MH Co-operative will be held on Monday 24th June at The Old Rectory Hotel in Llangattock, starting at 7pm. Members of the previous MH1 and MH2 Co-operatives, who are now all Members of the new Society, are very welcome to attend and will be receiving AGM communications and accounts in the next few weeks. Should you be interested in becoming a director of the new organisation, or discussing the role and likely commitment with an existing director, please let Sharenergy know by responding to their AGM emails.
There was not much rain in May but I understand that, whilst I was sweltering in Slovenia this month, there’s been a lot of rain in Wales, so this might rescue a poor generation quarter. Generation was as follows:
May (kWhs) Generation to date (kWhs)
Cwm Gu: 1,260 238,870
Nant yr Hafod: 810 133,520
Blaen Dyar: 1,050 83,210
Abernant: 640 94,810
Cwm Saerbren: 2,780 122,650
Total (5 schemes) 6,540 673,060
This year’s AGM of the merged LGV MH Co-operative was held in The Old Rectory Hotel in Llangattock on Monday 24th June and was well-attended. Members had the chance to vote on the motion that there is a return of 10% of capital to all Members and this was passed unanimously. An employee of our advisors Sharenergy commented that ‘it is heartening to see such a high level of AGM responsiveness and participation from a group of Members’. After many years of sterling service, Jackie Charlton has asked to stand down from the Company Secretary role of the hydro Co-op.
LGV directors, Steve Sharp and Simon Walter met local Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds, the party leader in Wales, and UK Lib Dem leadership candidate Ed Davey, following a request for them to visit one of our hydro schemes. The scheme visited wasn’t operating as it’s been very dry but Simon started the scheme up for a short time with water which remained in the 1.3 km penstock pipe. We then discussed LGV, global warming, local environmental issues and the demise of the UK hydro industry due to Feed-in Tariff cuts. Ed Davey was former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in the coalition government and so clearly knew the subject well but I got the impression that they were both keen to discuss the issues and listen to some of the problems faced by small community organisations such as ours. They stayed for about an hour before being whisked off to more places on the local campaign trail, including some retail outlets in Crickhowell.
June had more than the average annual rainfall in Wales at 94mm (compared with only 6mm last year) and so the hydros generated a decent amount of electricity. Generation was as follows:
June (kWhs) Total generation to date (kWhs)
Cwm Gu: 7,420 246,290
Nant yr Hafod: 2,620 136,140
Blaen Dyar: 3,770 86,980
Abernant: 2,890 97,920
Cwm Saerbren: 4,250 127,160
Total (5 schemes) 20,950 694,490
There was a lightning strike at Cwm Gu which tripped a fuse but otherwise July was a very quiet and dry month. Abernant didn’t generate any electricity all month and the other schemes stopped and started a few times but the total generation for all five schemes in July was less than 500 kWhs, as follows:
July (kWhs) Generation to date (kWhs)
Cwm Gu: 90 246,380
Nant yr Hafod: 120 136,270
Blaen Dyar: 160 87,130
Abernant: 0 97,920
Cwm Saerbren: 100 127,260
Total (5 schemes) 470 694,490
It’s a good time of year to carry out annual maintenance, to make sure that the schemes are ready for the wetter months. This will involve greasing, a full strip down of the spear valves and inspection of the runners, terminal tightening and anything else that needs doing.
There was quite a bit of rain locally in the first part of August but very little from then on. Generation and rainfall for the month was as follows:
August Generation (kWhs)
Rainfall (mm) 126
Cwm Gu: 4,410
Nant yr Hafod: 2,580
Blaen Dyar: 2,820
Cwm Saerbren: 8,640
Total (5 schemes) 19,620
Some standard maintenance tasks have been carried out this quarter on all our schemes apart from Cwm Saerbren, including stripping down and greasing the spear valves.
A new 2-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Octopus Energy for the Cwm Gu scheme has been signed this month, which replaces the old Co-op Energy PPA. The PPA with Co-op Energy for Cwm Saerbren has also been activated and a 5-year Meter Operator contract has been agreed with SMS Plc, who will install a new half-hourly meter at the scheme shortly.
It was announced recently that The Midcounties Co-operative, owner of Co-op Energy, has agreed a strategic partnership with Octopus Energy, the company behind the new Energy Local Crickhowell initiative. This is likely to have some effect on the LGV MH2 Co-operative but the changes are expected to be positive ones. As part of the deal, the Co-op Energy brand will be retained and Octopus Energy will take on ownership and responsibility for the management and supply of energy to the 300,000 plus customers currently supplied by Co-op Energy, Flow and GB Energy. The partnership will also see the creation of a joint venture between the two organisations to develop the community-generated energy market in the UK. Co-op Energy is the UK’s largest buyer of community-generated energy and Octopus Energy was the first supplier to launch a smart export guarantee tariff under the Government’s new approach to renewable energy.
September rainfall (103mm locally) was similar to August and fairly typical for this time of year in the UK. Below is a graph of the electricity generation (kWhs) per hydro scheme and the total for the five schemes from October 2018 to September 2019.
Abernant and Cwm Saerbren are approximately 30 miles away from the other three schemes and so will have experienced slightly different patterns of rainfall during the year. July was by far the driest month, with hardly any rainfall and therefore generation, whereas March and last December had the highest generation.
Since the beginning of October, there’s been a lot of rain which has resulted in consistently high amounts of electricity generation at all five hydro schemes. The first half of December has been wet as well, so the hydros are on target for a record generation and income quarter. See below for a graphic depiction of generation and rainfall this year to date).
As is usually the case at times of high rainfall and therefore constant operation rather than lots of stops and starts, all the hydro schemes have been running smoothly this quarter.
The rains have continued to fall in South Wales and, as a result, both rainfall and electricity generation from all five hydro schemes were at record high levels in the last quarter of 2019. December’s generation was actually 2.5% down on the same month in 2018 but rainfall at the recording station in Llangattock was the highest monthly figure since recording started in October
For the sake of completeness, below is the 2019 hydro generation and rainfall graph for the entire year.
Torrential rain has meant consistently high generation of electricity throughout the month, which now makes it five very productive months in a row.
Heavy rain continued through the first half of March in Wales and the last two quarters from last October saw some excellent electricity generation at all five of our hydro sites. This produced some decent income for our LGV MH2 Co-operative through Feed-in Tariffs and export payments and some of this will be reflected in the 2019 accounts.
During the downpours there was a landslip at the Cwm Saerbren scheme in Treherbert, which washed away much of the coal mining waste and rocks which were supporting the penstock pipe. The bank of one of the two feeder streams also gave way, causing some water to be diverted away from the intake area. Our partner community group ‘Welcome to our Woods’ did some good initial repair work and the landlord, NRW, responded quickly with some heavy equipment to make the area safe and repair the bank of the stream. Some further work at the site will be done to secure the penstock once the ground has fully dried out.
The very dry Spring in South Wales has meant several records have been set for low electricity generation at our hydro schemes. May was the lowest generation month since our final hydro scheme, Cwm Saerbren, was commissioned in February 2018 and total generation of only 7.5 MWhs in the past three months for all five schemes compared to 191 and 168 MWhs in the two previous quarters, which had set new records of high generation.
The very dry Spring in South Wales has meant several records have been set for low electricity generation at the hydro schemes. May was the lowest generation month since the final hydro scheme, Cwm Saerbren, was commissioned in February 2018 and total generation of only 7.5 MWhs in the past three months for all five schemes compared to 191 and 168 MWhs in the two previous quarters, which had set new records of high generation.
The work at Cwm Saerbren has now been completed. Below is a photograph of the new gabions which have been put in place to secure the penstock.
There were some typically rainy periods in Wales during August but otherwise the schemes have been quiet over the summer months.
Another hole opened up just before the intake weir at the Cwm Gu scheme over the summer. This is not unusual in an area with water running over limestone but any diversion of water before the scheme intake clearly reduces the generation. Work to remedy the problem was scheduled for August but was delayed by rain however the hole has now been filled and the area before the weir has been reinforced.
Over the past quarter the compulsory Accelerated Loss of Mains Change Programme (ALoMCP) changes to the electronic controls of all five schemes have been completed and the contractors, SCS Ltd., also carried out an electronic service at each site. The cost of this work was covered by a grant paid by the local electricity network operator, Western Power.
Local rainfall in October and November was only slightly down on the same months last year, when record high rainfall was recorded during the final quarter, so the hydro schemes have been generating lots of electricity. The graph below shows the electricity generated by all five hydro schemes during the last 12 months.
There were a series of power cuts at the Cwm Gu scheme in October, which the local DNO Western Power put down to branches or trees falling on or blowing against the power lines in the area. Fortunately the video camera set up in the turbine house meant that we were able to attend site shortly afterwards and restart the scheme.
[section title=”Our micro hydro partners”]
LGV and LGV Ventures are working in partnership with three other organisations:
• Sharenergy (sharenergy.coop) – a Shrewsbury-based co-operative that specialises in helping community groups set up renewable energy co-operatives. Sharenergy has provided development support for the Co-operative, is managing the administration of the Share Offer and will provide ongoing Member administration once Shares are issued.
• TGV Hydro (tgvhydro.co.uk) – a Brecon-Beacons based micro hydro supplier. The company has pioneered and championed the emerging micro hydro market in Wales and has built and run numerous similar schemes in the Brecon Beacons and other parts of Wales.
• Welcome to Our Woods (Facebook) – a community in the Upper Rhondda Fawr, South Wales Valleys, created to make local woodland more useful & relevant to the community and region. WTOW LTD is a not for profit social venture. The company has been created by the Cwm Saebren steering group to develop micro hydro projects.