Sunday 22 March 2009

British Waterways - generating interest

British Waterways – generating interest

22nd March 2009

Following on from my earlier blog about BW’s plans to build 25 small scale hydro electric plants, a bit more detail has emerged about their power play to become a force in electricial generation.

Sorry about the truly terrible puns, but the subject matter is such fertile ground.

We are told that the first five plants will be built on existing weirs on the Severn and the Trent in the Midlands, plus three more on the Ouse, Aire and Don in Yorkshire. These are all substantial natural watercourses with significant volumes of moving water. The plans are well advanced and are currently being progressed through the Planning Permission process. As with most good ideas, I predict a lot of noise from the NIMBY brigade!

Clearly these major rivers hold potential for many generation stations, so I guess that these are pilots to see how they perform throughout the seasons. BW also point out that they own about 90 feeder streams which deliver running water to the canals and that many of these have electrical generation potential. Or is that Kinetic… I think Kinetic is the latent power within an already moving object whereas potential is merely something that has, well you know, the potential to be turned into energy…. Or maybe it’s the other way round.

These schemes are going to cost £120m of which £20m has already been pledged by Climate Change Capital. However, they will have to get their skates on if they are to hit their objective of 40 megawatts flowing into the National Grid by 2010.

I am all for schemes like this, which increase our sustainable energy production and opens up a new source of income for cash strapped British waterways. So, if you are travelling these rivers over the next year or so keep you eyes peeled.

It sounds as if BW are entering a powerplay from which there can be no losers.

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