Water power provides a clean source of renewable energy with almost no carbon emissions. Lochwinnoch is fortunate in having many potential sites for hydro power which is an integral part of the heritage of our village; at one time there were eight water mills operating in and around the village. One site particularly promising site is Bridgend Weir on the River Calder because of the existing structure with a large fall. The weir was built in 1787 to provide a head of water for two of the water mills in the village and using it for electricity generation would be a fitting tribute to the heritage of water power in the village. It is estimated that it will provide a regular income of up to £30,000 per year for the village.
There are three parts to the proposed work
1. Restoration of Bridgend Weir”
Bridgend Weir was built from large sandstone blocks and over recent years the top three courses have been washed away and both abutments are in a poor state. It is planned to bring the sill level back up to its original level and to restore the abutments to their original condition At present there is a narrow, unguarded wall leading to the edge of the dam and from which there is a 5 metre drop onto the rocks below which are underneath the falling water. This is obviously very dangerous and so we plan to construct a viewing platform by widening the existing abutment wall, providing full disabled access with safety railings. A small control room will be incorporated underneath the viewing platform. The stonework of the viewing platform will match that of the dam itself. Many of the stones which have been washed away from the dam wall have been recovered and will be used for the viewing platform.
2. Installation of a Hydro Turbine
Consultants looked at five possible hydro sites in and around Lochwinnoch and found that the Bridgend Weir offered the most potential. The proposed turbine will have a maximum output of 50kW and will be an Archimedes Screw. This type of turbine is based on well-established technology and is the most fish friendly type of turbine. It is estimated it will produce about 190 MWhr of electricity per year which is equivalent to the energy used by about 40 homes. The electricity generated will be sold to the national grid using a Feed In Tariff which provides a guaranteed income for 25 years. The turbine will be located on the east bank and will be largely hidden by foliage. The inlet will make use of the existing disused lade and turbine flows will be controlled to ensure that there is always adequate flow over the weir.
3. The Fish Pass
Salmon and trout are found in the River Calder and it is thought that there are very good spawning grounds upstream of the weir. At the moment Bridgend Weir is a complete barrier to the fish and so a fish pass has been included in the renovation work. This will be a Denil type of pass, consisting of a rectangular channel with baffle plates within a concrete channel which will be located by the side of the Archimedes Screw.
The estimated cost of the work is about £450,000. We have already received financial support from First Port and the Warm Homes Fund which is being used to fund further engineering design. We have also received support in principle from Renfrewshire Council, Clyde Muirshiel Park, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage and Garthland Estates. We have recently applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for funding.
Downloads and Further Information
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Archmimedean Screw Turbines: How it works
Similar, community based, hydro projects:
Torrs Hydro New Mills:
Torrs Hydro New Mills Limited was founded in 2007.
Harlaw Hydro will replace the former micro-hydro installation with an updated micro hydroelectric scheme that utilises the outflow from Harlaw Reservoir.