Community hydroelectric projects damaged during floods remain offline

Whalley Community Hydro project

Sources that contribute power to two communities located in Lancashire, England, remain offline as the result of December flooding that wreaked havoc on their small hydroelectric projects.

In Halton, on Dec. 6, the River Lune floodwaters shut down the 100-kW Halton Lune Hydro facility at Forge Weir. Twenty days later on Dec. 26, about 40 miles southeast of Halton in Whalley, floodwaters from the River Calder knocked the 100-kW Whalley Community Hydro project offline.

Halton Lune Hydro is a US$2.4 million project commissioned on Sept. 18, 2015, which features two vertical Kaplan turbines designed and installed by Czech Republic-based Hydrohrom s.r.o. The units are installed side by side, taking a total combined flow of 12 m3/s.

No date for the facility to resume generating power is immediately available.

(Photo courtesy of Halton Lune Hydro)

Halton Lune Hydro turbines.

Water completely covered the turbines and generators, but when floodwaters subsided volunteer community members pumped water out of the powerhouse and cleared deposited mud.

Information from Halton Lune Hydro indicates engineers from Hydrohrom rotated turbines with new oil in the bearings on Dec. 11 and sent the generators offsite for repair.

Flooding at Halton Lune Hydro powerhouse

Whalley Community Hydro
The Whalley Community Hydro project, estimated to cost US$1.1 million, uses a variable speed Archimedean screw designed and installed by Spaans Babcock, a company based in The Netherlands. The scheme is located on the south side of the River Calder at the community’s 600-year-old Whalley Wier.

The project supplies power to the UK national power grid.

Reports indicate water entered the powerhouse and covered the screw’s gearbox. Engineers from Spaans Babcock are testing gearbox lubricant for water and grit contamination, and the generator should return to service this January.

To improve resilience, Spaans Babcock are raising the regenerative drive unit that controls speed and output to the grid off of the powerhouse floor. Local officials said although the powerhouse was constructed above the 100-year flood height, it was obviously overwhelmed.

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