Largest river hydro project to be commissioned in England since 2000
£7½m Knottingley renewable energy project located on the Rive Aire, east of Wakefield
Long-term (100 years+) investment in energy infrastructure
Generating renewable energy for local flour mill and local grid
Financed by private individuals
Supported by the Canal & River Trust, who look after the Aire & Calder Navigation
Knottingley, 3rd November 2017: a new hydroelectric power plant, the largest low-head river hydro plant ever to be built in Yorkshire and the largest plant commissioned in England since the start of the century, will today be officially opened by Geoffrey Boycott, the ex-Yorkshire and England cricketer.
Harnessing the flow of the River Aire, half-mile down river from the iconic Ferrybridge coal-fired power station, the 500kW Knottingley scheme (7 miles east of Wakefield) will generate renewable electricity for a local flour mill and the local electricity grid. It has been developed by Barn Energy, a privately-owned renewable energy project developer.
The £7½m plant will generate electricity 24/7, 11-12 months of the year, for the next 100 years. It has been completed on time (a 15-month build), on budget and with around 90% of the contracts placed with British companies, almost all in Yorkshire and the north.
Knottingley is the third river hydro scheme that Barn Energy has built in Yorkshire over the past three years. Its Kirkthorpe scheme on the River Calder near Wakefield opened earlier this year, and its Thrybergh scheme, on the River Don near Rotherham, opened in 2015.
More than 100 people worked on the Knottingley project, many of whom working for companies based in Yorkshire and the north of England. Yorkshire’s ANF Consulting and JNP Group designed the project, whilst Eric Wright Civil Engineering, part of the Eric Wright Group, was the main civil engineering contractor.
In developing Knottingley, Barn Energy and the project team worked closely with the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust (the scheme abstracts water from the Canal & River Trust’s Aire & Calder Navigation) to ensure that there were no detrimental impacts from the project. The Canal & River Trust, the charity which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, is a supporter of the project.
A major part of the project is a custom-designed fish passage and steel screen which will help salmon, eels and other migratory fish to safely navigate the weir for the first time in centuries. The fish passage cost £2m and was manufactured in Yorkshire.
Mark Simon, Chief Executive of Barn Energy said: “Knottingley is our third significant and long-term investment in Yorkshire’s energy infrastructure and is providing secure and sustainable energy to a local flour mill and the local grid. The economic and environmental benefits that river hydro offers, and the goodwill shown towards this type of clean energy generation, are clear to see.
However, given changes in government policy, and despite its Clean Growth Strategy that was published last month, it’s very likely that Knottingley will be the last scheme that we build in Yorkshire and possibly in the UK. Infrastructure projects of this kind, which have abundant environmental benefits, need the public sector involved to help access low-cost, long-term finance.”
Allan Leighton, Chair of the Canal & River Trust said: “We’re delighted to be part of this project, and it’s wonderful to see the historic Aire & Calder Navigation being used in this way. This project will help to protect the environment and bring clean energy to the local community for generations to come, supporting our vision for living waterways that transform places and enrich lives.”
For further information, including photos (location postcode: WF11 9HS, close to A1/M62 junction 33): Barn Energy (www.barnenergy.co.uk / twitter @Barn_Energy)
The 500kW scheme uses a dual Kaplan turbine (manufactured by Gugler Water Turbines) to extract power from the River Aire.
The stable “baseload” electricity generated represents the lowest cost over the long-term (expect to be still generating in 2117) and underpins the security of supply of electricity in the UK. Low-head hydropower is the longest-term source of renewable electricity, and the efficiency of the turbines means it produces a higher energy output per kW of capacity than solar PV or wind technology.
Low head hydropower at weirs is the only hydropower available for the majority of English and Welsh communities, specifically in industrial areas where it is embedded in the grid, resulting in almost no inefficiencies through transmission losses. With over 29,000 weirs in England and Wales, there is huge potential to use this technology to meet growing energy demand and the need for additional forms of renewable energy generation.
Founded by three experienced renewable energy entrepreneurs, Barn Energy is a British company that develops low head hydro projects in England and Wales. www.barnenergy.co.uk.
The Canal & River Trust is the guardian of 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England and Wales, caring for the nation’s third largest collection of listed structures, as well as museums, archives, and hundreds of important wildlife sites. We believe that living waterways transform places and enrich lives and our role is to make sure there is always a place on your doorstep where you can escape the pressures of everyday life, stretch your legs and simply feel closer to nature. www.canalrivertrust.org.uk @CanalRiverTrust @crtcomms