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The charity making life better by water

Green energy from water

The largest river hydro project to be commissioned in England since 2000 will generate electricity 24 hours a day, for 11 to 12 months of the year, over the next 100 years.

The site at Brotherton weir, during construction (Displayed with consent from Barn Energy)

Over the last few years hydropower generation sites have been installed at a number of our river weirs, mainly in the north east. These sites are quiet, unobtrusive, and always incorporate a state of the art fish and eel passage, that will help salmon, eels and other migratory fish to safely navigate the weir.

To develop a hydro site needs a large multi-million pound civil engineering scheme to build it. This is only possible following extensive consultation and gaining the necessary licences/permits from the Environment Agency. The site also has to maintain upstream water levels so there is sufficient depth for navigation, without impacting on likely flood levels in the river.

This is where the water management team come in. We need to make sure any third party operations on our weirs do not significantly increase flood risk, or impact on levels for navigation, which we have a statutory duty to maintain.

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These sites will continue to generate green energy for at least the next 100 years.
Ken Fowler, principal water engineer

We work collaboratively with technical and operational teams, and with our utilities team, who project manage all our potential hydropower schemes, and agree the associated commercial terms with third parties, we can generate income while contributing to renewable energy targets.

Knottingley Hydro Scheme

The most recent development to generate power is Knottingley Hydro Scheme, at Brotherton weir near Ferrybridge lock on the Aire & Calder Navigation Main Line. This has been constructed and will be run by Barn Energy, and from which we will gain a percentage of the income.

This scheme is the largest river hydro project to be commissioned in England since 2000 and will generate electricity 24 hours a day for 11 to 12 months of the year over the next 100 years. It's an excellent example of how modern technology can sit alongside, and work in partnership, with our historic network for the benefit of local communities.

Last Edited: 02 October 2018

photo of a location on the canals
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