Fish-friendly Hydro for Omagh – Part I

Omagh District Council has recently commenced work on a hydro project utilising the weir on the Camowen River, adjacent to Omagh Leisure Complex, to generate electricity through an Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. The hydro scheme uses the same intake point that was used to feed the headrace to Scott’s Mills that started operations about 1850 in the town.The development of the hydro scheme on the Camowen River will generate sufficient power to meet the needs of Omagh Leisure Complex with excess electricity sold back to the national grid.

Rated at 121 kilowatts the hydro turbine is predicted to save in excess of 133 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) annually and will make a major contribution to the Council’s green philosophy. This project will complement the Council’s initiatives to develop ‘green’ energy from renewable sources, including the installation of a biomass boiler at Omagh Leisure Complex. The revenue generated by the electricity from the hydro scheme will be contributed to a sustainability fund, which would become a resource to support other sustainability projects in the district.

Omagh Leisure Complex is amongst the most modern leisure facilities having almost doubled in size from its opening in 1982 with further expansion planned. Set in 26 acres of landscaped grounds the complex caters for everyone from the casual swimmer to the serious athlete.

This project to develop a hydro turbine on the Camowen River will create a very valuable resource for renewable energy, with many benefits being re-invested to the community and providing a valuable educational resource for Omagh. Not only will the provision of this renewable energy help protect the environment, but it will also contribute to achieving the Council’s target for energy consumption from renewable sources.

Site on the Camowen river prior to works commencing
Bank cleared in readiness for construction of the hydro scheme

With flood protection in place ground works begin

The Council is very conscious of the importance of the Camowen River as a fishery, and of the concerns of anglers. After various consultations it was decided that the most suitable turbine for the site was an Archimedean Screw.
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.
Literally thousands of fish passages have been monitored and recorded using underwater cameras at the intake, inside the chamber of the Screw itself and at the outflow to assess the effect of the Screw on salmonids (including smolts and kelts), brown trout and eels. The trials looked at fish passage across a broad spectrum of sizes and turbine speeds, possibly the most impressive of which was the safe passage of a kelt measuring 98cm in length and weighing 7.6kg. In addition, behavioural and migrational patterns across the species have been shown to be entirely unaffected by the turbine.

Pile driving and deep excavation for the intake channel

Foundations laid

Reinforced concrete works at power house location

Pre-cast culvert units aligned to form part of the intake channel
Sluice gate installed
The power house and intake channel have now been constructed.

Construction of the Intake Channel

Intake channel leading to the power house


Power house and sluice gate

Larinier fish pass to improve fish passage at site

Dual flight Larinier Fish Pass with resting pool installed alongside screw location

This Hydro project is the second of only two Archimedean Screw Hydro projects to date in Northern Ireland. Mann Power Consulting and Eco Evolution are installing both turbines. Mann Power Consulting based in Yorkshire are the pioneers of the Archimedean Screw in the UK and Ireland and Eco Evolution based in Co. Wexford are their authorised representative for the whole of Ireland.

Mann Power Consulting and Eco Evolution are the Archimedean Screw generating specialists in the UK and Ireland. Mann Power Managing Director, Dave Mann, brought the Archimedean screw as a generating turbine into the UK for the first time in 2004. Dave commissioned the fish passage studies instrumental in persuading the Environment Agency to accept the technology. Mann Power have a proven track record of successful installation throughout the UK and Ireland and their services are split into five distinct stages allowing clients complete flexibility to decide their own project timescale. They offer a fully integrated 3-D design and build capability and they are the sole distributors of Rehart Archimedean screws in the UK and Ireland.

The first ever Archimedean Screw generator in Northern Ireland was only recently installed at Shane’s Castle in Antrim. Rated at 214 kilowatts this is the largest single Archimedean Screw generator ever manufactured. Eco Evolution and Mann Power recently installed the massive Rehart manufactured machine at Shane’s Castle. It is expected that the scheme will be commissioned shortly and it will then be fully operational.

The predicted annual output is a massive 1,125,000 kilowatt-hours. To put this in perspective, an average household uses less than 5,000 kilowatt-hours per year, so this hydro scheme has the potential to power more than 225 houses. This scheme will also save an impressive 484 tonnes or more of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions by generating clean, green electricity.

Eco Evolution are also currently working on a smaller 20 kilowatt private scheme in Co. Antrim that is at the early stages of development. This scheme will provide power to a farm with excess electricity sold back to the national grid.

Incentive payments in way of Northern Ireland Renewable Obligation Certificates (NIROCs) are available for renewable generators including hydro. NIROCs are available for the electricity generated by the hydro turbine, this electricity can then be used on site with the excess exported to the national grid. There is an Export Tariff available for any excess electricity that is exported to the national grid.

The Eco Evolution professional team offers a friendly one-stop shop for hydro development, from feasibility studies to licensing, to installation and commissioning and everything in between.

Eco Evolution are also currently seeking suitable investment sites for hydro development around the country. Leases on suitable sites with potential in excess of 50 kilowatts would be considered.

All photographs copyright of Eco Evolution.

Fish-friendly Hydro for Omagh – Part II

The installation of the Archimedean Screw.

Ciara’s Pantry Scoops €10,000 prize in Gorey Business Expo

Well, here I am eventually after coming back down to earth after the excitement of the very successful Business Expo and ‘Dragons’ Den’ style Competition. There was a fantastic turnout on the night with over 200 visitors attending the very impressive Trade Show and then the equally impressive ‘Dragons Den’ Competition.

The evening began with the members of BNI Falcon showcasing their various businesses. Also in attendance on the night were representatives from Gorey Chamber, Wexford Local Development, Wexford County Enterprise Board and Business Network International (BNI).

On arriving the first thing that was noticable was the buzz within the room. Visitors were happily chatting over cups of tea and coffee and visiting the Trade Stands to find out more about the products and services offered by the various BNI Falcon  the ‘Dragons Den’ Competition would avail of all these products and services as they formed part of the amazing €10,000 prize.

Frank Gethings, Eco Evolution & Pat Roche, Arkman Consulting

Eco Evolution Stand nicely complimented by Molloy Architecture Stand

With everyone seated the ‘Dragons’ arrived and were introduced by the MC for the night Michael Molloy, Molloy Architecture. Putting the contestants through their paces were Mary Gethings, Eco Evolution, Ferns; Deirdre O’Flynn, Spellcheck Editorial, Carnew; Fabian Doyle, Sovereign Security, Arklow & Wexford; James Doyle, Doyle Foley & Company Accountants, Gorey; John Timmons, Glasgorman Computer Services, Courtown Harbour. Michael then proceded to explain the format of the evening explaining that the contestants would each have five minutes to ‘pitch’ their business ideas and then answer the questions put forward by the ‘Dragons’.

Fabian Doyle, james Doyle, Deirdre O’Flynn, Mary Gethings, John Timmons

First up on the evening was Ciara O’Dowd of Ciara’s Pantry based in Killinierin, Gorey. Ciara’s Pantry produces a range of natural salad dressings, sweet and savoury jellies, fruit vinegars and chutneys. She supplies the local Farmers Markets and some local retail outlets.  Ciara brought along some of her samples which were thoroughy enjoyed by the hungry Dragons (some hungrier than others)! The Beetroot Chutney I have to say was to die for!

Next up to face the Dragons was Ciaran Dolan of Gorey School of Kayaking. Ciaran who has more han 28 years experience in kayaking was looking at the idea of starting a Kayaking School and introducing the sport of Water Polo to the Sunny South East. He brought along samples of his Kayaks, Safety Helmets and Paddles.

Next we had Dean Keating of Monaseed Sales who was looking to introduce the concept of a ‘Virtual Sales Team’ to help businesses make more sales.

Lynsey Moorehouse of Irish Dance Superstore was next to pitch her idea to the Dragons. Lynsey who is dancing since the age of three is now an Irish Dancing teacher who has a vision of setting up an online Irish Dancing Costume Shop and spreading her wings worldwide. She showcased some of her products and brought along her daughter and friends to model the lovely Irish made costumes.

Last, but not least was Kelly-Anne Breen of Shen Acupuncture & Shen Cosmetic Acupuncture Clinic.  Kelly-Anne explained to the Dragons why Cosmetic Acupuncture is a better alternative to Botox. It is a more natural alternative which does not leave the “Frozen Feature” look which is an all too common sight with the overuse of Botox. Overtime her idea is to expand by setting up a Franchise of her Acupuncture business.

The five contestants have to be applauded on the delivery their pitches. It is not easy to stand up in front of a large crowd,  but the five contestants presented their business ideas like true professionals. Their presentations were very professionally delivered  and well thought out. Their ability to answer the Dragons grilling questions on the spot was amazing and complimented on by the most seasoned business people in attendance.

Dean Keating ,Kelly-Anne Breen, Ciara O’Dowd, Ciaran Dolan and Lynsey Moorehouse

While the Dragons retired to choose a winner, MC Michael Molloy put three business people under the spotlight to speak about their experiences and how they are handling the current economic climate. Pat Walsh, Walsh Mushrooms ; Niamh O’Sullivan, Ruby Rouge; and Shane Byrne, Arklow Waste Disposal all emphasised the importance of being realistic about your market, being tenacious and thinking outside the box in order to survive – and thrive.

Michael Molloy, Shane Byrne, Niamh O’Sullivan, Pat Walsh

After much deliberation the Dragons arrived back and handed an envelope containing the winners name to MC Michael Molloy.  Ciara O’Dowd of Ciara’s Pantry was then announced as the winner of the €10,000 prize. Ciara was shocked but delighted and was presented with her prize by Michael McGovern, Horizon Financial and Michael Molloy, Molloy Architecture.

Ciara receiving the €10,000 prize.

In the words of Ciara after the event  ‘ Your ‘Dragons Den’ was very professional and a bit too realistic’.

The members will meet and work with Ciara throughout the coming weeks and months to help her with the various aspects of her business.

A very big thank you to all the visitors, contestants and members who made it a very successful event.

Enjoy the compilation of photos in the video below. They highlight the atmosphere of the evening and the success of the event.

Nissan have turned over a New LEAF!

We were invited to come along to the Nissan LEAF Roadshow in Kilkenny to test drive the world’s first affordable, mass produced electric car, the Nissan LEAF. This was one of only two in Europe and was a left hand drive version.

The Nissan Leaf

They were very sceptical, another electric bubble car, how would this one differ? Arriving at the Roadshow they were very surprised to see that the Nissan LEAF looked like a normal 5-seater family car, but this was no normal car. It is a car that runs on 100% electricity, a car with no fuel tank, no mechanically propelled engine and no exhaust pipe and is therefore a zero emissions car. Mechanics may not be over the moon about its arrival as it is the dawn of a new breed of vehicle that does not have the associated high service and maintenance costs that we have come to accept. In fact the average annual running costs for the Nissan LEAF, based on 12,000 miles or 19,200 kms, are expected to be in or around €232, or less than €20 per month. With the LEAF the standard service intervals of a normal car are a thing of the past with replacement tyres now probably being the biggest maintenance cost.

The Nissan Leaf

This is a sleek looking mid-size family car with a very eye catching appearance and a surprisingly spacious interior; four adult males were easily and comfortably accommodated. No key in the ignition, no clutch and no gear stick, just a press of a button and the car is started, but shut your eyes and you wouldn’t realise as the only indications are visual ones. The Nissan LEAF has the performance of a 1.6 litre petrol engine and is very quick and smooth in acceleration, it drives like an automatic but much more responsive and without the associated gear change shunts and roaring engine. Power is delivered via an 80kW a.c. motor that develops enough torque to reach a maximum speed of over 140 km/h. Acceleration from a standstill is very impressive indeed and the LEAF floats on seemingly effortlessly and silently. The LEAF is so silent that below 30km/h it emits an audible beep to alert unsuspecting pedestrians and cyclists of its presence.

Charging socket under the Nissan badge just in front of the bonnet.

The electric motor is powered by a bank of lithium-ion batteries that are mounted under the seats and floor of the LEAF thus giving a low centre of gravity and balanced weight distribution resulting in excellent handling and ride comfort. The latest generation lithium-ion batteries used in the LEAF are manufactured by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), a joint venture company between Nissan and the Japanese electronics company NEC. These batteries are more efficient, more powerful and faster to recharge than anything gone before. The batteries can be recharged to 80% battery capacity in about 25 minutes from a fast charging point but the more normal method is a slower overnight charge. A full charge delivers a capacity of about 160kms but is very dependent on driving habits. The charging socket is under the Nissan badge just in front of the bonnet. ESB will install home charging points free of charge to the first 2,000 electric vehicle customers.

Underneath the Bonnet

Underneath the Bonnet

Under the bonnet Nissan have provided a mock engine but this space could have been put to better use. There is a standard 12V DC battery also to cater for starting and instrumentation on the dash, there is a small solar photovoltaic (PV) panel on top of the boot door that provides some level of recharge to the 12V battery. The boot is just adequate, certainly wont be carrying your full set of golf clubs in there. For a car with the latest generation lithium-ion batteries whose thinner structure and distribution around the vehicle allows for more room inside the vehicle itself, it is a pity that the lack of a conventional engine does not mean pucks of cargo space as well. But this is the only real negative in what is otherwise a breath of fresh air to the automotive industry and a real credit to Nissan.

Small solar photovoltaic (PV) panel located on the boot

Nissan Leaf Boot Space

The Nissan LEAF that will be available in Ireland will come fully equipped with features such as 16” Alloy Wheels, fully automatic Climate Control, Satellite Navigation that doubles up as a screen for the Rear Parking Camera, Cruise Control and a quick charge socket. Safety equipment such as Driver, Passenger, Side and Curtain airbags will be standard along with Electronic Stability Control. Equipment will also include the very distinctive LED headlamps which is a first for Nissan.

According to Nissan innovative smart phone connectivity will allow an owner to control many elements of the LEAF’s functions remotely, including telling the car when to re-charge, to heat or cool the interior of the car before starting a journey and many more innovative features. The Satellite Navigation on the LEAF can connect directly to a Global Data Centre via the Telematics System giving owners updates on charging points, driving patterns and so on.

Charging Point

Road tax is €104 per year but should these state of the art zero-emissions vehicles be exempt from road tax?

Nissan have certainly set the bar extremely high indeed and for this they must be applauded. The LEAF is certainly suited to city driving and low mileage driving but as technological advances extends the range of these vehicles they will become the vehicle of choice for all types of customers.

Test drive the Nissan Leaf at a branch near you!

Thanks to Liam Martin, Wexford Car Centre for the invitation to test drive this great piece of technology. It was a truly unexpected surprise. Test drive the LEAF at a branch near you!

All photographs copyright of Eco Evolution

Cabragh Wetlands Visitor Day

We were invited to come along to Cabragh Wetlands to speak about renewable energy products and how they can benefit homeowners and businesses. There was great interest on the day and homeowners, farmers and businesses alike were all interested in ways to reduce their energy costs.

Cabragh Wetlands  are committed to the three-fold vision of conservation, education and recreation. A wide variety of activities are offered on an ongoing basis to the general public, with the aim to create a greater awareness to the conservation and appreciation of our natural environment.

Lagoon on the Cabragh Wetlands

The Cabragh Wetlands Trust was registered in 1993 in an effort to save a vast area of wetland habitats from destruction after the filling-in of the settling pools by the Thurles Sugar Factory during its closure. These lagoons used to be an oasis of wildlife, particularly birds. The Trust was formed and acquired the land adjacent to the filled-in lagoons to ensure the continuation of this resting place for migratory birds.

Funding was made available through the LEADER programme and this enabled the necessary work to be carried out. Over a couple of years fencing was put in place, ponds were excavated, two bird-hides were built and walkways developed, a car park was laid out and finally a Visitor-cum-Education centre was built.

The Centre is run by a group of committed volunteers who provide exciting field trips for children of primary school age. The Wetlands have no less than 15 different habitats including ponds, reed swamps, hedgerows, streams and wild flower meadows. Footpaths and raised walkways with beautifully illustrated information boards as well as a large bird hide make an ideal place for school children to discover the sights and sounds of nature in a safe and child friendly environment.

Sculpture ‘Man on Wire II’ made by a local artist.

The Cabragh Wetlands Trust is a charity organisation and is relying solely on the goodwill of benefactors and volunteers for the maintenance and development of the centre. With the conservation of the site and the essential infrastructure in place, the Trust is now focusing on its second main aim, namely education. Although Cabragh Wetlands has the magnificent outdoors to offer and a beautiful information centre further work needs to be done.

Samples of local wildlife at the centre

A wide variety of activities are offered throughout the year to the general public to help create a greater awareness of conservation and also appreciation of our natural environment. During the Summer months a number of guided walks take place through the wetland with pond dipping and identifying wild flowers, trees, bugs and birds as well as workshops on a number of topics including bird box making and planting hedgerows. A series of Winter lectures are also held each year with topics ranging from ‘The Cosmic Walk’, ‘Bee-keeping’, ‘Nature and the First World War’ to ‘Heritage and the Tipperary Landscape’.


One of the many educational displays which can be viewed at the centre.

Primary schools can avail of the following educational field trips: Exploring a Hedgerow & Exploring a Pond. The children will have a chance to watch birds from the hide, go pond dipping, identify the creatures they have caught and visit the nature table at the centre. Students in second level education participating in young scientist projects are more than welcome to come along to explore and utilise Cabragh Wetlands as a source of data collection. Advanced field trips are available for second level students also.

An amazing display of ‘recycled’ art.

Locally grown fruit, vegetables, juices and home baking were also on display.

Locally grown produce

Locally grown produce

We would like to take this opportunity to wish Cabragh Wetlands all the best in the future and well done on the great achievements to date.

Photographs copyright of Eco Evolution

£1m hydro-electric project set to be biggest of its kind in Europe

Eco Evolution appointed agents in Ireland for Mann Power Consulting Ltd., the Archimedean Screw hydro turbine specialists in the UK.

A £1MILLION green scheme to turn Totnes Weir into a mini power station will be the biggest hydro-electric project of its kind in Europe.

The scheme — which could be in action powering up King Edward VI Community College by the beginning of 2012 — involves installing a four metre diameter Archimedean screw turbine to fill the 20-metre long sluice at one end of the centuries old town weir.

There are already 15 similar water-powered turbines operating in the UK and another 100 across Europe.

But the Totnes turbine’s size and its 200 kilowatt output would make it the biggest in Europe so far, revealed Dave Mann, the boss of Yorkshire company Mannpower.

It would harness the power of the 13 tonnes a second of water that pours over the weir which would then be used to provide electricity for the classrooms of more than 1,800 pupils at what is one of the largest schools in Devon.

“We have calculated that it will produce as much power as the school uses,” Mr Mann explained as he outlined the project at a public meeting at the college.

A similar, but slightly smaller screw, was installed at the River Dart Country Park by Mr Mann’s company and has been powering the park successfully for the past three years.

A consortium of local investors, called the Dart Renewable Partnership, has already bought the weir from one-time Autotrader boss Malcolm Barrett for £75,000.

The deal included land next to the weir where there are proposals to build a small classroom complex which would be used as part of a KEVICC educational project involving power generation and the river environment.

Mr Mann aims to submit a planning application for the project next month and begin construction in July next year and the turbine could be producing power for the school and the national grid by early 2012.

Mannpower has already held talks with fishing organisations, owners of waterside properties, the Environment Agency and KEVICC.

Around 20 members of the public, local councillors and representatives of interested group were at a public exhibition outlining the project at KEVICC’s Ariel Centre.

The scheme also involves building a fish ladder up the weir for salmon and trout which spawn in the upper reaches of the Dart — and installing underwater cameras and fish counters to monitor the fish population.

Fish expert Peter Kibel explained that the current fish ladder was too long and too difficult for smaller fish, leaving them easy prey for seals which swim up river to take advantage of salmon and trout trapped in the weir.

It is also planned to remove the diagonal concrete ledge across the weir built as another aid for fish.

That will stop the force of the water being directed to one side of the river which has eroded the bank by 20ft in the past two decades.

This will allow water to pour over the weir in a more direct route and eventually wash away the mud island downstream at low tide.