How much power can I generate?
The amount of power a site can generate depends on how much water there is and how great a fall there is. We can help you to come to good estimates of these with some free advice if you get in touch (see Desk Study under Consultancy & Design on this website). If your site is an old water mill then it was built because there was water power potential at that location, so there is a good chance you will be able to generate. Many sites will produce enough power for a few houses, but there are some sites on larger rivers, and some mountain burns where there is the potential to supply hundreds of homes.
How much does a hydropower system cost?
Again this is very site dependant, but the cost is very rarely less than £25,000. As a very rough rule of thumb it might be useful to think of £7,000 per kW capacity for smaller sites, or £3,000 per kW capacity for a larger system, but there is huge variation from one site to another.
Can I generate electricity from a fast flowing river without a fall?
In theory this is possible but the amount of power available is very small in comparison to sites where the water drops. We do not design or recommend schemes of this sort.
How much income will my scheme provide?
A scheme might be designed to operate on average at half of its peak output. So a 20kW scheme might produce 10kW on average. Throughout a year that is 87,600kWh. Under the Government’s clean energy cash back scheme this would typically be worth around £21,000 per year. For a 40kW scheme these numbers should be doubled. For more information see DECC’s website:
Are there grants available for hydro schemes?
Occasionally yes, but normally no. There is no UK-wide general hydropower grant scheme. Schemes that are available change too frequently to be covered here.
Can I generate using my old water mill?
Normally yes, as long as it still has a water supply and somewhere where the water falls (with space for the installation of a turbine) it is probably possible.
How much water do I need?
The more water is available the higher the power potential of the site. It is important to remember that it will rarely be appropriate to use all of the water at a site for ecological reasons. The amount of water needed for a certain amount for power depends on far it falls, so if the water supply is only a small stream but it can be harnessed high up a hillside there might still be a significant amount of power available.
Will my scheme need a license or planning permission?
Normally one or more licenses will be required from the Environment Agency and planning permission is often required as well. With some information on your site we can advise more on this, but generally we recommend consulting the local authority and the EA as soon as the technical viability of a project has been established.
Is there an association for people interested / involved in hydropower?
Yes. The British Hydropower Association (http://www.british-hydro.org) is the trade association for the UK hydropower industry and it represents generators, suppliers and other interested parties of all sizes. The BHA does valuable work in promoting hydropower and in discussing various issues with Government departments and regulators so that hydro is protected from inappropriate legislation, is better understood and is widely recognised as a reliable and valuable source of renewable energy.
How do I know who to go to for advice?
With hydropower there is no standard solution. The best design for a site is often not obvious. It is important to take advice at an early stage from someone with experience and a good track record, like us! Ask for references or information on working installations - hydro schemes should last for a long time. The BHA is also a useful source of information.