Trust, you had a great Jubilee Bank Holiday—hope Congleton Hydro will still be around and operating in 70 years’ time, although that will still make us younger than our Queen!!

The Adage “April Showers brings forth May Flowers” is only partially true. We may well have had plenty of May Flowers (well my garden is quite colourful) but no April showers (one of the driest on record apparently) and hardly any rain at all in May to keep flowers blooming.

Net result: Very Little Power Generation (River Dane starting to look more like a stream!!)

The graphs below give a good indication of the Hydro status (Cummulative Power generated since October 2021).

Output generated
Zero power update

Today’s snap shot says it all

cumulative power

Power Generated over the last six months

(Date axis is US style)

Whilst on a linear month-by-month basis we appear to be falling short of our annual power generation target—circa 250,000 kWhrs, the long-range weather forecast indicates some wetter spells ahead. (And of course, with school holidays in July and August we are bound to have Rain, Rain and even more Rain!!!)

What rain we have had during the early part of the year has been really helpful with the site “nature regeneration”. 

Congleton Hydro slope

June 2021

Congleton Hydro grassey slope

June 2022 – The slippery slope transformed.

The Boardwalk look quite photogenic but needs weekly care to keep the brambles at bay!!

We’ve taken advantage of the dry weather to carry out a major project: the replacement of the Heras fencing around Archie with a tubular safety handrail system.

Site now looks less like an unfinished building site.

We designed the system using modular handrail components from FH Brundle (The UK’s Wrought Iron Components Specialists – F H Brundle). Components are available to suit a variety of sloping ground conditions. Although Archie is positioned at 30degrees, the piling containment and pathway is at approx. 7 degrees. Using Brundle’s 0-11deg components we constructed the system shown below. A lot of drilling (Fifty-two 12mm holes drilled into the 6mm thick piles to secure the base flanges) and galvanised steel tube cutting. Lots of measurements (measure at least twice before cutting!!), plenty of use of spirit levels and dexterous pairs of hands have given us a safety fence system that looks a million times better than the temporary Heras panels. Saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves and got plenty of sunbathing as well!  A Big Thank you to the Volunteers who helped.

Boardwalk
Archie Protective Fencing
Archie

As mentioned above we had to drill Fifty-Two 12mm diameter Holes in the 6mm thick piles. A good learning point:  a “special buys” drill bit lasted about 2 seconds!!, a “decent DIY store “drill bit about two holes. We are lucky in Congleton to have a company in Congleton called Threadfast Threadfast Engineers: Tool & Fastener Stockists and Distributors. Their “selling logo” is for “—tools that last”. A 12mm drill bit from Threadfast costing £10 cut all the holes and is still going strong! Guess the moral is buy a tool fit for the job and you’ll save time and money!

 

Our last newsletter mentioned the possibility of a new Hydro project. A little bit more about this below.

Following the successful commissioning of the 65kW hydro scheme at Havannah Weir the DVCE team are keen to move forward with another renewable energy venture based around Congleton Park.  We recognise that all such developments present a certain amount of risk to their developers. Since we do not believe it is reasonable or fair to expose the current membership of DVCE, and possibly the viability of the existing scheme, to such additional risk, we are proposing to perform this new work under a separate CBS namely Dane Valley Community Energy – Congleton Park. ( DVCE-CP for short).  This CBS will be both administratively and financially independent in order to protect the existing DVCE assets, its membership and its ongoing support to the community.

A design feasibility study for the Congleton Park Wier conducted in 2008 showed the potential for a 50KW, on weir, low head hydro turbine. A scheme in this location will be very visible and provide not only an added attraction for people to visit the park, but an easily accessible educational resource for the community and for schools in the local area. The site for the Hydro is owned by Cheshire East Council who have issued a statement of support for the progression of the project, which aligns with their Net Carbon Zero ambitions. 

Due to the high capital cost for hydro development and the withdrawal of any subsidies for renewable electricity generation, the group are looking at delivering a broader community renewable energy project that will also include the installation of solar on public and commercial buildings across Congleton. This will ensure the business case for the combined community energy project is more robust.

Progress on the new project to date includes securing a £100K grant from the Rural Community Energy Fund to perform the development work to fully explore technical, financial and regulatory feasibility issues. In addition, we have appointed a Consulting team to perform the necessary supporting studies leading to submission of Planning Applications, to the Local Planning Authority, EA abstraction Licence, and Flood Risk Assessments, as well as draft Land and Roof Lease document and a Business Case. Which will form the basis for a Public Share Offer. 

By the way, while we have managed to attract some new and very welcomed expertise into the group, who have agreed to take up Company Secretary and Director roles, we are still looking for a new Treasurer to be responsible for both the DVCE and DVCE-CP. If interested, please drop us a line at info@www.congletonhydro.co.uk

 

Congleton Park Weir

Congleton Park Weir

As you can see from the above photo the Park weir is a lot shallower but significantly wider than Havannah Weir. It should develop about 50kW (Havannah approx. 65Kw)

The weir which is below the Pavilion/Café (which by the way produces the World’s Best Bacon Sandwiches!) on the river Dane was built in 1814 to replace an earlier wooden weir, washed away in the floods of that year. Although the weir has ceased to be used in providing a head of water any mills, the massive stone structure is a fascinating feature when one walks upstream towards the park. It powered the town’s Corn Mills and then the first Silk Mill built on Mill Green.

This Weir and the mills it powered, to a large extent underpin a part of the core history of Congleton. Maybe, one of my colleagues can produce an article on this subject for a future issue.

Dane Valley Community Energy held it Annual General Meeting via ZOOM during April. Well attended by members, a copy of the short highlight’s presentation is attached for your info.

The observant amongst you might have noticed that this is titled Spring Newsletter. As the Havannah Hydro now starts to enter operational maturity (albeit with a shortage of water to feed Archie!!), there is a shortage of topics of possible interest to write about. So, rather than produce a few pages of uninteresting drivel (although maybe many of you might think we have been producing uninteresting drivel for the past 12months or so!!!), we have decided to produce the Congleton Hydro on a Quarterly basis. Next issue will be end of Summer – perhaps by then we will have had a traditional British summer with rucks of rain, allowing Archie to run at top speed!!, and we will have made some progress on the Congleton Park Hydro and Solar scheme.

As usual, we welcome your feedback and suggestions for improvement in all we do. Please contact us via info@congletonhydro.co.uk

 

                   With Best Wishes from your Congleton Hydro Team