EPIKS is working with partners to explore ways to generate green energy from our local rivers.

EPIKS have been working consistently to highlight our local rivers and waterways as a valuable asset for wildlife and recreation for many years. We are often asked if hydro- electricity could be generated from our weirs and streams. This year we are delighted to be working in partnership with Hallidays Hydropower and the University of Huddersfield to explore the possibility of and seeking funding for  green energy generation on the River Colne at Snow Island in Huddersfield. Richard Tate, Programme Manager of Hallidays Hydropower Ltd answers our questions about how their Picostream Hydro power generator could be an ideal solution to small-scale generation starting with a pilot project in Huddersfield Riverside Nature Park:

Tell us about the product and how it compares to more familiar energy generators such as solar and wind – its size, output and how it is a viable green energy solution.

The PicoStream Hydropower generator is an exciting new green energy solution. Despite its very small size, this turbine really does pack a powerful punch from an electricity generation perspective. It only takes up about 3 square metres of space, has a high energy efficiency factor of >80%, producing at least 600 watts of power output – this mighty little product will produce more electricity in a year as a 5kW solar panel array or a 2kW wind turbine! When you compare this to 32 sq metres for a 5kW solar array or around 20 sq metres for a 2kW wind turbine is really awsome!

How does this output relate to household usage?

In the UK the average house uses between 1,800 to 2,900kWh of electricity per year. So, in layman’s terms the PicoStream turbine can produce 7,446kWh per annum, which is enough power in a year for 4 low electricity usage homes (small flats) or enough for two medium sized houses.Source: https://www.ovoenergy.com/guides/energy-guides/how-much-electricity-does-a-home-use

How does it work, its impact on fish populations and the permissions required.

The PicoStream turbine is a revolutionary new type of green hydropower generator which works by extracting the potential energy flowing from the first few inches of surface water in a fast-flowing river or stream and converting this to electricity that can be used to power a house or other use case. The entire design has focused on 16 years of industry knowledge and learning, with specific emphasis on making sure that the turbine is acceptable to the UK Environment Agency as well as SEPA and NRW respectively (Scotland and Wales).

The turbine can be lifted into a channel or simply floated into position by two people. No heavy cranes or machinery are required. The turbine requires either an existing weir/sluice channel with good water flow throughout the year and a head drop (fall of water) of at least 0.5 metres and a minimum channel width of 1.3m wide. Or if you’re lucky enough to have one, a fast flowing (>1.8m/s velocity) river or water channel that is at least 60cm deep. The turbine floats on the surface of the water as it generates you electricity!

The official term for this type of turbine is a ‘Hydrokinetic turbine’. This product is the living reality of when it is actually a good thing to ‘reinventing the wheel’, and is a perfect blend of Archimedean, Da Vinci and Barnes Wallis mathematics! (The famous ‘bouncing bomb’ inventor).

This new Floating Radial Turbine (FRT) utilises vanes angled in two planes in order that fish may receive gentle glancing blows rather than square-on blows that traditional water wheels and other turbine types would produce. The FRT has also been designed to eliminate pinch points where the fish may be trapped between the turbine and adjacent structures (the FRT is actually designed to work in relatively deep water, away from the bed of the watercourse). The FRT also provides access for fish to escape from the turbine if caught up in it.

Where are you looking to pilot the PicoHydro?

Snow Island Weir, River Colne, Huddersfield partnership with UoH. This is a pilot – so we can explore the possibility of other schemes with small local, proactive community groups: small environmentally friendly Hydropower solutions = BIG impact.

What about other sites in the Colne and Holme Valleys?

These present an ideal location for PicoHydro because there are many sites in this area with good water flow and existing weir/sluice structures which could be installed onto for rapidly deploying multiple examples of these fantastic new Net Zero contributors. Many of the weirs in this area have been marked as non-removable, and as such are going to remain there for many more years to come. As such we see a great opportunity to utilise these structures to create Green renewable electricity in a way that is benign to fish and does not adversely impact the local environment.

The Colne and Holme Valley is also home to a strong local community which is historically rich in engineering talent and people with a positive ‘solutions led’ background. This will play an important part in ensuring the support and collaboration of the nearby population and allow us to not only achieve many of our short term goals, but also put in place a strong long term operational and maintenance programme to ensure that these new turbines are well looked after and survive a long and proud operational life.

Will PicoHydro tally with national legislation for rivers and water quality?

There is also an exciting opportunity to finally combine key goals of the Environment Agency alongside Hydropower, as these tiny hydropower generators can be installed on weirs/sluices that have been lowered to below 1 metre in height, in order to improve upstream fish passage for Salmon and Trout species. Normally Hydropower turbine installations prefer to maximise the weir crest height in order to produce the most amount of power. This new approach of ‘small is the new big’, could allow the installation of many of these small hydro generators whilst actually lowering weir crests and helping to contribute towards better water course standards and outcomes, such as the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

What are the next steps for the PicoHydro pilot at Snow Island?

A detailed feasibility study has been carried out at Snow Island Weir by Hallidays Hydropower. This site survey has already shown that the site possesses very high potential for being an excellent installation site for the PicoStream turbine technology, but also for additional types of innovative Hydropower, such as a new design of the Archimedes Hydroscrew.

We are working closely alongside EPIKS and the University of Huddersfield to ascertain the most effective and positive impact use for the electricity generated with these two new turbines.

If you are interested to learn more about these versatile and low impact turbines and even conduct your own feasibility study, click on the attachments below.


Free Feasibility Study for PicoHydro Electric Power