Why Mini or Micro scale Hydro?

Small-scale hydro is one of the most long term cost-effective and reliable energy technologies to be considered for providing clean electricity generation. Hydropower is the nation’s most available, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy source requiring only the power of moving water from rivers and streams.
Weir on the river Camowen, Omagh

Weir on the river Camowen, Omagh

Small scale hydropower systems capture the energy in flowing water and converts it to usable energy. Although the potential for small hydro-electric systems depends on the availablity of suitable water flow, where the resource exists it can provide cheap clean reliable electricity. A well designed small hydropower system can blend with its surroundings and have minimal negative environmental impacts.
 Benefits of small scale hydropower:
  • A high conversion efficiency (70 – 90%), by far the best of all energy technologies.
  • A high capacity factor (typically >50%), compared with <10% for solar and around 30% for wind.
  • A high level of predictability, varying with annual rainfall patterns.
  • Slow rate of change; the output power varies only gradually from day to day (not from minute to minute).
  • A good correlation with demand i.e. output is maximum in Winter.
  • Hydro produces a continuous supply of electrical energy in comparison to other small-scale renewable technologies. 24 hour generation i.e. works at night.
  • It is a long-lasting and robust technology; systems can readily be engineered to last for 50 years or more.
  • Well-designed schemes are also environmentally benign. Small hydro is in most cases “run-of-river”;  in other words any impoundment is quite small, often an existing weir, and little or no water stored.
  • Small hydro schemes have minimum visual impact on their surrounding environment
  • A climate-friendly energy source with  no direct CO 2 emissions from hydro projects.
Therefore run-of-river installations do not have the same kinds of adverse effect on the local environment as large-scale hydro, which involves a substantial dam and a more fundamental alteration to the downstream flow pattern.

Why micro and small scale hydro?

Why micro and small scale hydro?

Hydropower is a flexible technology, proven, improved and refined over many years, yet its site-specific features make it highly innovatory in application, which makes use of a wide range of available resources – micro, small or large, storage or run-of-river, and  including tidal, canals and even water treatment works. It is still one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power, playing an important role in our electricity system stability.
If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site, would like to refurbish or replace a water wheel or a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use we can help. Just contact us here and we will answer all queries and help you every step of the way with your proposed project.

Ampair completes Westwind acquisition and now provides worlds largest range of small wind turbines

Ampair, the Dorset-based wind turbine manufacturer, has completed its acquisition of Westwind, the Belfast-based wind turbine manufacturer. Ampair, with over 40-years’ experience, is the UK’s oldest manufacturer of wind turbines. The acquisition allows Ampair to boast the title of having the largest range of wind turbines of any small wind manufacturer in the world, offering a selection of wind turbines from 100W through to 20kW.

Ampair 6kW Wind Turbine

Ampair 6kW Wind Turbine

These turbines are typically used on locations ranging from yachts to powering farms and houses. Ampair’s managing director David Sharman said this morning “the completion of this deal puts Ampair in a very strong position for the future with business risk diversified against a wide portfolio of time-served turbine products, including three MCS-certified turbines. With a range of eight turbines we can always offer the customer the right turbine for their needs.

We in the industry are all too familiar with the overnight collapse of manufacturers who rely on only one or two turbines or immature product. A particular strength of Ampair is the long term commitment to serving a global market and this reduces our exposure to short term local politics that can influence individual countries. As a result of this acquisition we hope Ampair will continue to grow and be delivering turbines to happy customers for at least another 40 years. ”

We are the Irish resellers and installers of the Ampair range of wind and hydro turbines.  If you have a suitable site for a wind turbine and  interested in generating your own electricity or if you’re  involved in the marine industry please contact us.

Ampair now have new operating facilities based in Antrim.


Aquair 100 ~ Hybrid wind & water power for long distance sailing

If you haven’t experienced trailing generators and how they work, now’s the time to try them!

Power generation is always a vexed question on a yacht – how much do you need? How will you generate that need? The modern sailing boat needs power – that is, if you want electronic instruments, computers, autopilots, as well as those items of personal comfort, refrigerators, deep freezes or microwaves.

Aquair 100 ~ Photo Credit: Ampair

Aquair 100 ~ Photo Credit: Ampair

Starting the engine every day to generate this power is a simple solution, as more systems means more complexity, and that means more stuff to break down or otherwise ‘go wrong’. However, that is not a viable option because fuel today is not only environmentally harmful but also expensive and getting more and more expensive. The wind and the sun are more and more being exploited by governments of the world in an effort to cut the use of depleting reserves of ecologically harmful fuels, and the cruising sailor need to take this ‘on-board’ as well.

The Aquair 100 wind and water turbine, ideal for ocean crossings and long distance sailing

The Aquair 100 water turbine has been designed specifically for charging batteries over long distance crossings and converts to a wind turbine at anchor. It has been reliably powering boats over long distance crossings and at anchor for 35 years. Mounted to the stern of the boat and trailing a towed water turbine on 30 metre line, the unit provides over 6 Amps continuously at 7 knots.

At anchor, the unit can be converted to run as a wind turbine. Unlike their competitors, Ampair have maintained a very small form factor for the Aquair making it the smallest hybrid generator on the market. If you are making an ocean crossing the Aquair 100 is perfectly suited.

Mounted to the stern of the boat and trailing a towed water turbine on 30 metre line

Water Mode – The Aquair 100 is designed for yachts cruising at 4-15 kts. The standard pitch turbine surfaces at 7kts and skips at higher speeds, so a coarse pitch turbine is used on yachts which sail at 8-12 kts. At 7kts the turbines drag is 17 lbs: it will not noticeably slow the yacht . The standard stainless steel gimbal ring mounting provides a simple and automatic alignment method and can be rigged into the push-pit or mounted in the optional frame for boats without a push-pit. The shaft connector is designed to break to save the generator and push pit if the turbine becomes trapped.

Aquair 100

Wind Mode – The Aquair 100 can also be used as a wind turbine when at anchor or in harbour.  Using a “rope only”, hoist-in-the-rigging system (HIR).  A halyard lifts the Aquair 100 away from busy cockpit into clear air. No noise or vibration to worry about!  A pole mount option is available for yachts with stern gantry or similar.  A short pole is welded, clamped etc. to an existing structure.  A single electrical connection then serves wind and water modes.

Advantages – Use of the Aquair 100 greatly reduces the frequency of engine running to recharge service batteries. The turbine generates sufficient power to run an autopilot, maintain navigation equipment or support a fridge. It produces a continuous output of up to 6 Amps at 12 volts. Its permanent magnet alternator with built in rectifiers has no commutator brushes and the windings cannot overheat so it requires no thermal cut-outs or protection.

Regulator – The Aquair 100 can be used without a regulator in water mode as you can just pull in the line if the batteries are charged, if you prefer autonomy and will also use the turbine in wind mode any of the 100 series regulators can be used.

Aquair 100 specifications and dimensions

We are the official Irish distributors and installers of Ampair products. We have been supplying various sailing clubs and the Marine industry throughout Ireland with the Aquair 100. If you would like more information on this or other Ampair products or would like to receive a brochure please contact us here.





Archimedes arrives at Osney Lock!

Osney Lock Hydro is the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames.

Constructing a community-owned hydro scheme at Osney Lock has been a dream for local residents for over thirteen years. It started in 2001 with a survey of  Osney Island residents that revealed a shared concern about climate change and a desire to harness the power of the river that ran around the island to generate green electricity. A small island next to Osney Lock was identified as the best site for the hydro scheme. The island is owned by the Environment Agency so they were approached about the possibility of leasing the site. It was discovered that work was to begin on the weir in 2013 so the pressure was on for the residents to draw up plans for the Archimedean Screw and secure planning permission and then most importantly secure funding for the project.

Construction work prior to installation

Construction work prior to installation

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.

Osney Lock hydro installation

Lifting the 4.35m Archimedean Screw into place

osney lock hydro installation

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 – the final construction phase of the Osney Lock Hydro scheme. The screw was designed by Mann Power Consulting Limited in the UK and manufactured in the Netherlands by Landustrie. Once operational, the 49kW variable speed Archimedean Screw turbine  will harness the power of the river to generate approximately 179,000kWh of green electricity per year.  When the scheme is completed it will generate enough electricity equivalent to that used to power around 60 houses. It will also generate an income of over £2 million over the lifespan of the project for the community to use for further environmental projects in the community.

Osney lock hydro installation

The four bladed Archimedean Screw being guided into position ~ Photo Credit: Andrew Watson

Over the coming weeks the power house will be constructed and then the gearbox and generator added. Once the Archimedean Screw is commissioned it will generate clean green elcetricity for the Osney Lock community – a long awaited dream that came to life 🙂

Update: Gear box and generator connected.

Gearbox and generator connected

Gearbox and generator connected

Chooseday’s Choice! ~ Renewable Energy or Fossil Fuels?

Renewable energy resources are clean sources of energy. They can be harnessed without damaging the environment, unlike using fossil fuels which release carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) and other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. They will never become exhausted. Unlike finite fossil fuels, renewable energy resources are continuously replenished through the cycles of nature and will not run out.

You Choose!

Renewable Energy or Fossil Fuels?

Renewable Energy or Fossil Fuels?