Progress Update - March 2016

On March 4th 2016 we were able to re-commission Generator-1, Lightning, after over a year lying idle. To mark the occasion, the very same day, the two screws between then recorded 1,007 kWh, always a rare event and last seen in May 2014. The problem had been a civil engineering one; the plinth which supported the lower bearing having broken away from its base. At first it had been thought that the bearing had failed but only after the winter waters had subsided was the true nature of the problem revealed. What also was revealed was the fantastic team of volunteers led by Phil, Dave & Nigel who spent many hours on preparatory work and supporting the contractors. Fortunately Generator-2, Thunder, kept going throughout and was only stopped as a precautionary measure on two nights when flooding threatened. By itself Thunder produced 57% of the budgeted output and it now remains for the screws reunited to wash away the accumulated build-up of silt.

Progress Update - June 2015

We passed the landmark of 500,000 kWh of electricity produced on the 19th April 2015, a great result and thanks to the hard work of our dedicated team of volunteers. However as anyone visiting the site over the last few months will know, one of our turbines (Lightning) has been shut down due to a major fault. It seems the concrete plinth the lower bearing sits on has failed. Thankfully thunder is still performing very well so our output is running at 60% of budget. The civil engineers have now visited the site and are drawing up plans to fix the problem.

Progress Update - October 2014

We are pleased to announce Thunder and Lightning are meeting their production targets and so we have been able to make our first interest payment to shareholders of 4%. So far they have produced just over 404,000 kwh of electricity in under two years of operation.

With almost 2 years of experience operating the turbines in all conditions ranging from drought to flood our dedicated team of volunteers are confident they can now get the most out of Thunder and Lightning. The AGM is due to be held soon where shareholders and prospective shareholders will be able to get a full performance update, details will be announced soon.

Stockport Hydro Chairman Ben Alexander

Stockport Hydro Chairman Ben Alexander at the site today said “22nd October 2014 is our second anniversary and we are delighted to have produced over 400,000 kwh and been able to pay our shareholders 4% interest for 2013-14.”

Progress Update - February 2014

With the wettest January since records began Thunder and Lightning have been busy producing huge amounts of renewable electricity from the River Goyt. Currently they are producing 41kw per hour and the grand total has now risen to over 265,000 Kwh (as of 4th Feb 2014). This is great news as we are catching up with our forecast production targets after the dry period in 2013. I heard today the wet and windy weather is predicted to be with us until the end of February so hopefully Thunder and Lightning will remain hard at work to make the most of it.

Progress Update - November 2013

The Stockport Hydro AGM was recently held at Chadkirk chapel, a beautiful old church and garden set in woodland a few minutes walk from the Stockport Hydro Site.

Chadkirk-Chapel

The shareholders were updated on how the scheme is performing, now it has been fully operational for over a year. Our volunteers have had a steep learning curve and have overcome every challenge thrown at them so far. From experimenting with how to get the most power out of Thunder and Lightening in different river conditions, to coming up with a strategy to deal with leaves and debris blocking the intake screen.

 It has been an unusually dry year with only 12 days of steady rain during the 200 day period from Christmas 2012. This led to such low river levels that we had to shut down the plant for 10 days in July during the (very enjoyable) 2013 heat wave.

One positive of the dry spell  is that we have discovered electricity production from low river levels are actually higher than was originally predicted. However this is balanced by the fact that when the river level is very high production levels are lower than forecast.

In our first full year of operation starting on October 22nd 2012 we produced over 180,000kwh of electricity. This is about 80% of our annual target of 230,000kwh. However as we only received 80% of the rainfall we would expect in a normal year we are pleased with how the scheme has performed and have to accept that generation is entirely dependent on rainfall, and will no doubt even itself out over the long term. 

The scheme is in good financial health, we have made the first repayments of our bank loans and the scheme is predicted to break even this current year and then start to produce a profit.. We have now raised nearly £310,000 from our share offer which is above our initial target of £250,000. We are keeping the share offer open as we are keen to repay our loans as soon as possible. This means instead of paying interest to the bank we will be able to spend more on local community projects and return a higher dividend to our shareholders. We are now even selling raffle tickets where you could win a £250 shareholding in Stockport Hydro.

Our volunteers are still tweaking the software and operation of the plant to try and maximise output. For example for a few weeks during the autumn, leaves in the river clog up the intake screen to the plant and reduce power output. Our dedicated team of volunteers now make daily checks to clear this trash and they have learnt that by slightly reducing the power output of the plant overnight it takes longer for the leaves to build up. Over the night this means power generation levels are maintained whilst reducing wear and tear on the equipment. Helpfully it also avoids the need for someone to set their alarm for 3am to unblock the intake! 

It is amusing to look back at our first full year which was mainly dominated by dry weather. However during the autumn of 2012 we experienced very high river levels such as pictured below. When flood waters increase the river level it has the effect of reducing the distance the water has to drop down the Archimedes Screws. This means even though there is more water in the river Goyt there is actually less energy available for us to produce electricity! So for the coming year we hope to get a little more rain, just as long as its the right sort of rain!

Swollen River at Stockport Hydro

Thunder and Lightning are Officially Opened

May 2013

We have had our official opening ceremony and our twin Archimedes screws named "Thunder and Lightning" by Stockport Mayor. The name was suggested by Class 5B from Woodley Primary School in Stockport.

Thunder and Lightning have been turning "in earnest" since 22nd October 2012.  Now accredited for the Government's Feed in Tariffs, we have been earning income at a commercial rate since that time as we feed sustainable energy into the National Grid.  In March 2013 we passed our 100, 000th kilowatt hour of power generation: a milestone of which we are very proud.

Despite low levels of rainfall during the winter of 2012-13, the fact that our twin screws can turn independently and at variable speeds, has meant that we have been able to continue to generate power when other similar schemes have had to stop.  In fact, our engineers are now confident that this configuration of our Archimedes Screws will yield 30% more electricity than in our original plans, which is great news not only for the environment but also for our creditors and investors.

We have had approval from the Environment Agency to operate, and remain constantly vigilant that our programme supports the local environment and wildlife. As part of our construction phase we removed a huge amount of invasive non-indigenous plant species and installed bat boxes and fish and mammal passes.  We have also gone to great lengths to ensure the screws themselves are not harmful to fish or other wildlife using the river.  As part of the daily routine our volunteers clear plastic and other rubbish from the intake screen to the turbines, so helping to keep the river Goyt clean.

We have a team of dedicated volunteers who regularly visit the plant to inspect and ensure its continued safe and efficient  running.  During the autumn, there was a lot of work to ensure fallen leaves did not reduce operational efficiency by collecting at the inlet to the screws. The entire area is covered by CCTV which can be accessed remotely allowing us to regularly monitor and check everything is OK with the site.

A Champagne Moment

6th march 2013

Stockport Hydro's directors would like to give you a bottle of Champagne

Any member who introduces another member, or who takes further shares themselves before April 4th 2013 will be entered into a prize draw.

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