A look back at 2014 – the power of water!

The blog has been quite of late so now its time to get back into the swing of things.  And what better way than to look back on some of the most memorable posts of 2014.  While looking back through the posts over the past few days it has stuck  me just how busy we were in the last year!

We have had to spend a huge percentage of the year traveling and working in the UK due to the lack of support mechanisms and action on microgeneration here in Ireland. In December ESBCS withdrew their export tariff scheme to new microgeneration customers which now means there is no financial incentive in this country for microgeneration as ESBCS were the only supplier offering such a tariff. Contrast this to the ROCs system in NI and the REFIT scheme in Britain, both these schemes pay for actual generation not just what is exported, there is a smaller top-up payment for export. On the brighter side we got the opportunity to travel through the most scenic countryside to visit and work on beautiful rivers and old mills.

Working in the great outdoors

Working in the great outdoors

Penllergare Valley Woods.

Almost a year ago to the day we visited Penllergare Valley Woods located on the northern fringe of Swansea. It was once a famous gentry estate and home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, the notable 19-century horticulturalist, philanthropist and pioneering photographer. The development of the hydropower scheme in Penllergare Valley Woods will generate sufficient power to meet the needs of the sites new visitor centre and excess sold to the National Grid, raising an expected £10,000 per year for the trust. The Archimedean Screw with a length of 11m and a capacity of 2880 m3/h is situated next to the waterfall at Penllergare Valley Woods.

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

 Osney Lock.

Osney Lock Hydro was the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames. There was extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support the project would not have been able to go ahead. Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire.  On Tuesday 25th March at midday the dreams of the local residents came to life when a 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed at Osney Lock.


Osney lock hydro installation

 Mapledurham Watermill

The watermill is the last working corn and grist watermill on the River Thames and is still producing high-quality stone-ground flour today.  An Archimedean Screw hydro turbine was designed and installed in 2011 to replace the original turbine that had fallen into disrepair.   The 7.27 m Open Compact Archimedean Screw has a capacity of 5,000l/s and a predicted output of 99.95kW. It is estimated that it will save 221 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Over the course of a year, the screw will produce approximately 500,000kWh of renewable electricity which is being bought by Marks and Spencer via the national grid. The electricity generated is sufficient to power one of its stores.

Archimedean Screw

Archimedean Screw

The mill produces stone-ground flour using a waterwheel. Wholemeal and white flour, bran, semolina and Millers Mix, a blended combination bran and semolina, are all produced at the mill.  When the sale of the electricity has covered the cost of the turbine, the profits will go towards renovating the mill and its outbuildings to how it was 200 years ago. The new water wheel is the exact structural copy of the existing water wheel and is made out of oak which was sourced from the Mapledurham Estate.

New water wheel at Mapledurham

 Cragside House

Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. On the 9th April, a century and a half  after the first hydropower installation at Cragside House a new hydropower turbine arrived onsite. A 21st century, 17m long Archimedean Screw rated at 12kW and weighing several tonnes was craned into position at the southern end of Tumbleton lake and  will produce enough energy to re-light the house just like Lord Armstrong did.


17m long Archimedean Screw insitu

17m long Archimedean Screw insitu


The project consists of two 3.6m diameter Archimedes Screw hydropower  turbines. The turbines were designed to rotate at a speed of 28rpm, which produce a maximum power output of 150kW.  The estimated annual power output is 670,000kWh enough electricity to power over 150 homes and gives an estimated annual CO2 saving of 288 tonnes. A small percentage of the power generated is used to power the owners home and the remainder is sold to the National Grid. The fish pass and hydropower scheme was offically opened in 2009.

Wordless Wednesday ~ the power of water!

 Sowton Weir

Sowton Mill stands on the  River Teign in Devon and has been using hydro power for over 400 years, initially to mill corn and then, from the 1950s, to generate electricity.  In the 1980s a 16kW crossflow turbine was installed which was the U.K.s smallest electricity contributor to the National Grid. To improve the power generation and aid fish migration a decision was made to install the fish-friendly Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. Sowton hydropower scheme was developed by a private client to provide a renewable source of electricity to the property on site with all excess power sold to the National Grid.

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

 Tours and Shows

One of the most exciting memories of 2014 was visiting the IFAT show in Munich and continuing on to visit some Archimedes Screw installations in Munich, Czech Republic and The Netherlands. IFAT 2014 is the world´s leading exhibition of innovation solutions for environmental technology. Climate change, rising raw material prices, an increasing number of mega-cities and advancing industrialization in emerging countries  boost the demand for products and services that address environmental and climate challenges. With growing pressures on European countries to reverse years of environmental damage and to find more integrated pollution control techniques, the potential is limitless.


Frank at IFAT 2014

Frank at IFAT 2014

There are many more projects both here and in the UK at various stages of build which I hope to blog about throughout 2015. The projects mentioned are a taste of what community groups, home owners and businesses have achieved in their desire to harness the power of the river to generate green electricity. On our trips around Ireland with the Mills and Millers of Ireland we met several mill owners and enthusiasts who, like us are promoting the benefits of hydropower and encourage and assist in the preservation of old mills which are part of our Industrial, architectural landscape heritage.

We will continue to fight for microgeneration incentives because after all every person or household in the country that pays an electricity bill also pays a PSO. So  it is a little unfair that the ordinary man in the street who pays the bulk of this PSO does not benefit from it in the form of any incentive that would help him to install his own microgeneration.




Fish-friendly hydropower at Sowton Weir

Sowton Mill stands on the  River Teign in Devon and has been using hydro power for over 400 years, initially to mill corn and then, from the 1950s, to generate electricity.  In the 1980s a 16kW crossflow turbine was installed which was the U.K.s smallest electricity contributor to the National Grid. To improve the power generation and aid fish migration a decision was made to install the fish-friendly Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. Sowton hydropower scheme was developed by a private client to provide a renewable source of electricity to the property on site with all excess power sold to the National Grid.

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydropower turbine

Mannpower Consulting Ltd.,designed the Open Compact Archimedean Screw for this particular site which was manufactured by Landustrie in Holland.  An Open Compact is a self-supporting U-shaped steel construction minimising necessary civil work on site. The generator unit is an integral part of the construction, easily accessible via a weatherproof, hinged generator cover. The length and diameter of an Archimedean Screw will be dictated by the parameters of the particular site and are finished in the colour of your choice. All Archimedean Screws are manufactured as bespoke installations. Rated at 95kW it is expected to save in excess of 165 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (C02) annually. The predicted annual output is 368,000kWh per year.

Fish-friendly hydropower at Sowton Weir

Closed compact Archimedean Screw

Improvements were also made to the fish pass at the nearby Weir.  These measures will make it easier for fish to move upstream and will add to the understanding of their migration patterns. The Archimedes  hydropower installation has improved the fisheries ecology of the river Teign by allowing more juvenile salmon and sea trout reach the sea. The improved fish pass at the weir means more salmon and sea trout can reach spawning grounds on the upper Teign. An automatic fish counter was also installed to count the fish numbers and species using the pass. This provides invaluable information for the Environment Agency and the Teign fishing association.

Sowton Weir

Sowton Weir

Once again we see the Ancient power of Archimedes being used for hydropower generation because if it’s fish-friendly credentials. The Archimedean Screw turbine provides a fish-friendly alternative to conventional turbines, ideally suited to low-head (1m-10m) sites, and sites with fish protection issues. Extensive fish passage tests have conclusively demonstrated that the large water chambers and slow rotation of the Archimedean Screw allow fish of all sizes, and debris, safe passage through the turbine. As a result, the Environment Agency has agreed that no screening is required.

If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site or are a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use please contact us here.

Going Wild at Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden

On a recent trip to London I decided to visit the world-famous Regent’s Park. There are several breathtaking gardens in Regent’s Park to enjoy. These include Queen Mary’s Garden, a glorious rose garden, St John’s Lodge Gardens, the Community Wildlife Garden and the beautiful tranquil Avenue Gardens. Lakes, wildflower gardens, secluded woodlands and meadows can also be seen. It is also home to London Zoo.  This world renowned conservation centre has over 650 species of fauna from all over the world and is the world’s first scientific zoo. Being a nature enthusiast the garden that appealed to me most was the Wildlife garden.

Just a short walk from Baker Street tube, on the South West side of Regent’s Park you will find the Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden.  The garden was constructed during 2006 and 2007 by the ‘Wild in the Parks’ team. It is a wildlife friendly community garden, designed, constructed and planted with help from local schools, community groups and volunteers. The garden aims to demonstrate how you can encourage and support wildlife in your own urban garden, even if it is only small, or if you don’t even have one.

IMG_5946 (800x600)The front garden planted with a selection of low growing plants was designed to show that if you have a car you can park it in front of your house without the need for a concrete drive. Front gardens are disappearing from urban areas at an alarming rate which means there are fewer places for wildlife to shelter and feed.

IMG_6126Tucked away in a nice sheltered corner of the garden surrounded by trees, hedging and wild flowers there is an insect hotel built out of recycled materials that was made by local school children.  The insect hotel helps to  increase the number of beneficial insects in the garden which in turn improves its biodiversity.  Much of the garden is also left to grow wild to provide cover for birds and to encourage butterflies and bees.

IMG_5949 (600x800)The main aim of the Regent’s Park Wildlife Garden is to provide a safe and friendly environment for people to visit and wildlife to flourish. Their non-intrusive gardening policy avoids the use of chemicals wherever possible, to use native plants that need little water to avoid draining precious resources and enrichment that includes a pond and bog to further the biodiversity of the garden. Ponds play an important role in the biodiversity of any wildlife garden. They provide breeding space for dragonflies, frogs and toads and are source of water for birds and mammals. If you have space, think about creating your own.

IMG_6043 (800x600)Local school children have been particularly busy with the creation of artwork which has been incorporated into the garden’s information boards. The boards provide information on how to increase the species of wildlife in the garden. Planting shrubs with berries to feed the birds in the Winter and leaving dead wood and fallen leaves for hibernation are just some of the advice shown on the colourful information boards.

Going wild at Regent's park Wildlife gardenAnother piece of artwork provides a central focus by the lake, an 8 meter long newt sculpture constructed from earth, turf and wild flower plugs and giving the impression that he has just crawled out of the water.

Going wild at Regent's Park wildlife gardenThe wildlife garden also has an interesting interactive sound bench powered by a solar photovoltaic panel. Visitors can sit and listen to tales from the local community on how their  parks are such special places. Over the years the amount of wildlife attracted to the garden continues to rise with finches, woodpeckers, long tail, blue and great tits all visiting with great regularity. Bird boxes, bat boxes and bird feeders are dotted throughout the garden to help encourage and increase wildlife visitors.

IMG_5951 (800x600)On the day of our visit the sun was shining through the autumnal leaves making this peaceful haven in the middle of London a delight to be in. Many of the plants were turning to seed and coming to the end of their flowering season. With the colder weather just around the corner the community volunteers were busy preparing for the Winter months ahead by ensuring to provide suitable hibernation habitat for the many species of mammals, invertebrates and beneficial insects to help enrich the local ecosystem, cleaning out and erecting new bird boxes, tidying parts of the pond and composting the garden waste.

IMG_5948 (600x800)The garden is open all year round to the public during daylight hours. This tranquil oasis in the heart of London is the perfect place to escape for a few minutes or hours and watch nature do it’s dazzling thing!  Cycling enthusiasts will be happy to hear that there’s a bike docking station just beside the entrance to the wildlife garden. A great way to get around to explore and discover the delights that the 410 acre Regent’s Park has to offer.

IMG_5961 (600x800)

Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus 28th October 2014

The annual “Practical On-farm Renewable Energy” event will be held on Tuesday 28 October at Greenmount Campus. DARD has again joined forces with the UFU, and AFBI to provide practical information for farmers and the rural sector about the various renewable energy options available for their businesses. This is a FREE event and is open to the public from 11.00am – 8.30pm. The follow-up event at CAFRE’s Enniskillen Campus will be held in February 2015.

Shane's Castle Archimedes Screw Installation - largest single screw ever to be manufactured

Shane’s Castle Archimedes Screw Installation – largest single screw ever to be manufactured & first to be installed in Northern Ireland

Renewable energy technologies continue to offer significant potential to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of farm businesses through reducing and enabling additional income streams, when employed in the appropriate situation. This event seeks to assist farmers and growers with identifying which technology, if any, is appropriate for their own business (or domestic) situation. It also aims to provide information and contacts which will aid progress through the many procedures required to bring such projects to fruition.

2nd hydro scheme installed in Northern Ireland for Omagh District Council

2nd hydro scheme installed in Northern Ireland for Omagh District Council

There will be a series of seminars throughout the day highlighting local case studies of the main renewable energy technologies; wind power, heat from biomass, biomass production and utilisation, biogas production, solar PV, micro-hydro and energy storage. A second series of seminars will deal with many of issues facing those considering installing a green energy source. Topics covered will include the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), grid connection, planning, NI Renewable Obligation Certificates (NIROC’s), finance and budgeting payback.

Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event at CAFRE’s Enniskillen Campus

The timing of the seminars is such that those attending can dip in and out of the seminars that interest them and spend time talking to some of the trade in the exhibition area or tour the renewable energy installations at Greenmount Campus to see some of the working technologies at first hand. There will be around 30 trade and ancillary stands providing both information on the various renewable energy technologies and guidance in overcoming any barriers to implementations.

Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event at CAFRE’s Enniskillen Campus

For further details, contact David Trimble at 028 9442 6682 or david.trimble@dardni.gov.uk.


Eco Evolution offer a friendly one-stop shop for hydro development in both Ireland and the UK from feasibility studies to licensing, to installation and commissioning and everything in between!

If you would like to discuss any aspect of your project prior to the show or want to arrange to meet us on the day please contact us here. We look forward to meeting you at the show.

New Schemes Needed To Encourage Microgeneration in Ireland

The Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) has called on the Government to introduce new schemes that would further encourage and incentivise the development of wind microgeneration in Ireland for farms, businesses and homes which the Association maintains could have significant benefits to farmers and rural communities.

Microgeneration is the production of energy on a small scale for farms, businesses or domestic homes. Typical microgeneration technologies include Wind Turbines, Solar Photovoltaic, Hydro Power and Combined Heat & Power (CHP) with equipment ratings below 11kW.

Microgeneration technologies - hydro, wind, solarpv

Microgeneration technologies – hydro, wind, solarpv

Caitriona Diviney, Chief Operations Officer of IWEA says that electricity costs rank among the main overheads for Irish farms, businesses and homes and that more wind microgeneration could help reduce costs, whilst allowing installers of microgeneration technologies to earn additional income by contributing the surplus electricity to the national grid.

She said “When compared to neighbouring countries such as the UK, the significant potential for wind microgeneration in Ireland still remains relatively untapped. Locally generated electricity can be yet another guaranteed Irish farm product, and can give farmers more control over their own electricity production.”

“We believe greater wind microgeneration can lead to more sustainable livelihoods and form part of the solution to reduce the overall carbon emissions of the industry.”

To encourage the development of wind microgeneration new schemes could be put in place to give farmers, small businesses and residential homes greater opportunity to invest in microgeneration.

“Some farmers and homeowners are already successfully availing of microgeneration and it is recognised as a long term investment however under current circumstances economic payback for a micro-scale wind turbine may not be achieved for more than ten years. In our pre-budget submission to the Government we have therefore, called for new schemes, akin to those in other countries, that could reduce the payback period, making this a much more attractive option for farmers but also for suitable small businesses and some residential homes.”
The Irish Wind Energy Association has launched a step-by-step guide aimed at helping farmers consider the options in availing of new microgeneration technology and is available for download on their website.