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Feasibility of micro-hydro schemes in South Glamorgan, Wales

Johansson, M. and O'Doherty, T. ORCID: 2017. Feasibility of micro-hydro schemes in South Glamorgan, Wales. Energy Procedia 142 , pp. 309-314. 10.1016/j.egypro.2017.12.049

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Run-of–the-River Hydro electricity generation, utilizes the natural flow of the river, extracting water from a high point, where it flows to a micro turbine generator, and the kinetic energy is captured. In general, the Run-of-the-River systems have an installed capacity of between <100kW to 5MW, with an efficiency of over 80%, and it remains one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. Cardiff is the Capital City of Wales and is the tenth largest city in the UK with a population of around 357,000 people as of 2017. Wales currently generates 9% of electricity from renewables with the Welsh government strongly behind a low carbon economy. The city of Cardiff has set a goal to be a ‘One Planet City’ by 2050, which entails reducing the consumption of natural resources and reducing the carbon produced. The objective of Cardiff City is to reduce CO2 by 26% by 2020 by increasing the renewable energy generated around the city and considering the annual rainfall is abundant, with over between 200 - >500mm per year, there is much potential for small scale hydroelectric schemes. One current example of a renewable energy scheme in Cardiff is the Radyr Weir Hydro Scheme which uses water from the River Taff to generate electricity. The gross head of the system has been calculated as 3.5m with a mean flow of 21.37m3/s. The turbines chosen for such a project were two Archimedes screw turbines (3.5 meters in diameter and 10 meters in length) to generate a maximum of 394kW (2 x 200kW). The annual energy yield will be approximately 1.8 million kWh per year, with an annual CO2 saving of around 785 tonnes. Within the Cardiff area, ten more weirs have been identified and the flow velocities measured, and these are located on the River Taff, the Ely and the Rhymney River as well as within small streams such as Roath Brook or abandoned reservoirs such as Llanishen. Three ideal sites have been recognised primarily based on the height of the weir, the site location and the return on investment and these are Llandaff, Pontypridd and Roath weirs, where it is believed there would be minimal environmental impact and sufficient energy could be produced. Blackweir has been discounted even though it is one of the largest, due to the location being a site of scientific interest. Smaller weirs, such as Hawthorn and Upper Pontypridd, with <1.5m in weir height (head) obviously produce much less power, but because of the higher Feed-in-Tariff for pico hydro schemes, they prove to be a much more attractive investment opportunity in contrast to the higher costing bigger projects. However fluctuating Feed-in-Tariffs, which change every 3 months lead to investment uncertainty and it is believed hinders future project development.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Engineering
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1876-6102
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 13:47

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