Congleton Hydro Community Energy Project Tue, 05 Jan 2021 22:48:47 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Congleton Hydro 32 32 Congleton Hydro Newsletter January 2021 Tue, 05 Jan 2021 22:41:06 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter January 2021 appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


Happy New Year and Welcome to 2021

Many people would say that 2020 has been a most terrible year and wish it had just been a bad dream. I guess that on a personal note, the members of Congleton Hydro would agree but from a Project viewpoint, 2020 has been a great year with many achievements not to be forgotten.

The share offering was a great success with the target sum of £730K being overachieved, key contracts placed and the project on track to an illuminating success (sounds better than generating!!) before Easter. The COVID restrictions and the first lockdown could have wrecked all our plans but like all good organisations we quickly adapted and found new ways of working to minimise the impact on the project. The share offering launches were supplemented by Zoom Seminars/Presentations/Q&A sessions and to be honest we achieved much more geographically widespread interest and participation than if we had held them as planned, physically in Congleton Town Hall. Project Team meetings were quickly switched to Skype (supplemented by WhatsApp, emails and phone calls as required) and worked very well—only thing missing was the regular monthly meeting over a Curry and a few beers. The civils contractor CTC has a work force bubble, which has worked very well and with a two-man team the Boardwalk contractor Redfox has made great progress. Maybe the biggest regret and possible risk was not being able to witness test the Archimedes Screw before it was shipped, however rucks of data were exchanged electronically. Our thanks to Siemens for making a “COVID secure” space for us to configure the control system. A positive impact has been OFGEM extending the FITs “start-up “timescale by one year.

We had originally planned to start work end of April but because of the COVID impact on the progress of the Congleton Relief Road construction (a planning condition to harmonise our site access with their work phases) we did not start on site until September. Credit to all involved with the Project, that despite some horrible weather conditions some of these four months start up delay, have been recovered.

 Sadly, perhaps the biggest impact of the COVID restrictions is that we have not been able to host visitors on site to view progress and some of the impressive constructional achievements. To have done so would have seriously jeopardised the integrity of the Civils Bubble.  Our apologies to all for this but hopefully the openness of information in the regular newsletters and our Website information has given you a good overview of the project and its progress (warts and all!!)

Last month we shared some of the frustrations caused by our Georgian Engineer forebears!! and our inability to bash at least one of the piles down to the required depth. Well, just to finish the story, when the screw channel was finally excavated the reason became clear, as shown in the photograph below—a big hunk of “Georgian Stone” just where we wanted the pile to go!!! (stone subsequently removed and pile depth completed)

The errant “Georgian Stone” foiling the Pile!!

The errant “Georgian Stone” foiling the Pile!!

The weather during much of December has not been kind to us with the incessant rain making the site very boggy indeed. Despite this and the consequential streams running down the hillside, Redfox has made good progress with the Boardwalk construction.

As a reminder, this is about 1.5m wide and runs for approx. 80metres from Havannah Lane, through the woods and finishes just above the Archimedes Screw. Wheelchair and Restricted Mobility access friendly, the Boardwalk will contain several Interpretation Panels that will give headline descriptions of the operation of the Screw, The Geography/Geology of the site, Rivers and Flora and Fauna. QR codes will allow suitably enabled ‘phones etc to access the Congleton Hydro website for a greater depth and breadth of relevant information.

The above-ground construction (decking, rails etc) of the Boardwalk uses C24 Timber. C24 timber is kiln-dried to reduce the moisture content and is structurally sounder and more resilient compared to the more common C16 treated timber. C24 timber also tends to be more uniform and neater in appearance. C24, also because of its greater strength, means that smaller deck boards can be used on the same centres.

The main Piles or supports for the boardwalk are made from reconstituted recycled plastic that generally is not suitable for any other form of recycling—some manufacturers call them “upcycled” posts. Inserted into approx. 0.5metre deep boreholes, they are weatherproof, resistant to decay and have an expected lifetime more than 30years. Taste and toughness mean no biting by animals, even beavers—not that we have any beavers on site! In accordance with our planning requirements, the final 80metres or so of the power cable connecting the Hydro to the consumer will be strung under the boardwalk. Dutton Contractors will do this once the boardwalk is complete. Details of the boardwalk under construction are shown in the photographs below, decking etc is only temporary until the main construction is substantially completed.

Boardwalk construction
Boardwalk construction

As mentioned above, the weather during large parts of December has not been conducive to unhindered and speedy progress of the main civil works. As you will be aware from previous newsletters, the River Dane is one of the highest Spate Rivers in the UK. (Spate in this instance meaning a sudden rise in water levels). Whilst our overall design accommodates this, during the construction phase, foundation holes time consumingly dugout get flooded, and then a further time-consuming process is needed to pump them dry! Notwithstanding this, and the “leftovers” from our Georgian forebears! some good progress has been made on Screw channel and foundations. In summary, this has included:

  • Excavation of the screw channel from the outfall (to the river) to the base of the screw, including over 25 cubic metres of rock.
  • Pouring of the concrete to form the plinths in the screw outfall as well as new concrete benching to guide the exiting water flow (as mentioned last month we have had to put a “bobsleigh run” curve into the channel so we can avoid the old “Georgian retaining wall”
  • Amending the design of the screw channel waler beams (that aid the stiffening of the screw channel piles so that they hold back evenly across the entire length of the structure) to allow them to be raised by 0.5metre, thus reducing the depth of the excavation on the outside of the piles.
  • Amending the design of the pile structure which will support the “hillside” above the screw channel. This allows lower specification and hence lower cost trench sheets to be used.
  • Re-organising the design and layout of the Power Shed to facilitate a less expensive construction.

For those of you who like to see these civil details visually, we hope the diagrammatic view below will be of interest.

Archimedes Screw Channel Construction and Excavation Reworking

Weather and overall site conditions permitting, activities in January will focus on finishing the screw channel and construction of the water beams. Also, the excavation and shuttering of the forebay tank and hopefully pouring the forebay tank concrete (the forebay tank is the chamber that essentially connects the 1.5metre inlet pipe (this is the Weholite pipe described in a previous newsletter) to the input of the Archimedes screw via the penstock pipe. In the tank, the water is basically slowed down sufficiently for any remaining suspended particles to settle out and be prevented from entering the turbine.

During February, again weather and site conditions permitting, the Archimedes screw will be lifted in place (either by the tandem digger method or maybe by crawler crane—depends on site conditions at the time). Powerhouse can then be constructed, and the Gearbox, Generator and Variable Speed Drive/Control Cabinet installed (again weather and site condition dependent and this may well be a March activity). The last 80metres or so, of cable can then be installed and ducted into the powerhouse for termination onto the incomer breaker.  One of the last core civil items to be completed is the insertion and “welding up” of the Weholite inlet pipe into its prepared channel and covering up and making good (this is one of the last activities as we want to minimise any machinery driving over the pipe channel. We are then into the commissioning phase (including the installation and connecting key peripherals such as level gauges, penstock gate motorised connections etc, but more about that next month when we get a better handle on the progress made during these dark and dismal winter months. We then need to get our heads around finalising the detail and programme for the “non-operational” but project essential peripherals such as railings, ladders, tree planting, site security and so on.

So, a long list of activities still to be started, let alone completed but we reckon we’ve broken the back of the project and can see the end in sight. In absolute months, project duration has been really what was planned but of course calendar wise we are 2-3 months from where we thought we would be.


As regular newsletter readers will know, we try to include a more detailed “topic of interest” with each issue.

This month the “Topic of Interest” is:

The Hydro site is designated as a non-statutory Grade C Site of Biological Importance (SBI), for its riparian deciduous woodland and ground flora species indicative of Ancient Woodland.

Before we could satisfy and get approval from the Statutory Authorities (Cheshire East and the Environment Agency) we commissioned several studies to determine the overall ecology of the site and what mitigation measures would need to be undertaken to meet the statutory needs and indeed our own wishes to champion the environment in which we live and its sustainability. These studies (and their subsequent revisions at the request of the authorities) are incredibly detailed and comprehensive but are perhaps too “heavyweight” to include with the newsletter. (we intend to publish them on our website, along with other studies, investigations etc as part of our “as designed and built” documentation package. In the meantime, we hope that you will find the summary information in the attached report to be of interest.

Our Civil Construction partner CTC prepared a detailed Environmental operations Plan before any site work commenced and a copy of Dane Valley Community Energy’s Environmental Policy is attached for your information.

Once the system has been commissioned, we can get to grips with the finalisation of the Site’s Woodland Plan. This will cover not only cover any suitable replacements for trees and plants but a suitable vegetation “screening” programme to help nature camouflage elements of the civil constructions. To help maintain the sites eco and woodland structure the enthusiastic support of volunteers will be needed and many thanks to those who have already registered a volunteering interest. Interest in volunteering can be registered via We would hope that we can be proactive in providing these volunteering opportunities once we have commissioned the system and need to get our collective arms around the overall schemes support and maintenance. But and it is a BIG BUT we live in these days of COVID restrictions and as such we just do not know when we will be able to enjoy the unrestricted site freedoms that we all wish to enjoy.

We hope you have found this newsletter to be informative and of interest and gives you a picture of how the scheme is proceeding and the obstacles that sometimes need to be overcome. We would welcome your feedback on this newsletter and any topics that you might like to see covered in future issues. Please, drop us a line at


                                     Again, Best Wishes for a Really Good 2021

                                            Please stay Safe and Take Care




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Congleton Hydro hits the front pages! Tue, 15 Dec 2020 16:26:08 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro hits the front pages! appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


Congleton hydro’s latest newsletter hit the front page of Congleton Chronicle, great to see the support from the local community!

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Congleton Hydro Newsletter December Wed, 02 Dec 2020 22:50:03 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter December appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


Archie the Screw has arrived, but we are almost screwed by the Georgians!!!

November has seen a major milestone with the delivery of the Archimedes Screw but also November produced some unforeseen ground conditions that have set us back by a few weeks.

After a long journey across the North Sea Archie landed at Killingholme Port on the South bank of the Humber and wound its way to Congleton via the M62.With a total vehicle length of 16.950M and a height of 3.85M, it was not judged to be an “abnormal load” and the journey was, according to the driver, uneventful. The trailer was equipped with a rear wheel steering system and the skilled driver only held up the Macclesfield Road traffic for about 1-minute as he reversed onto our access track.

archie the screw arriving at site.

A crane had been pre-ordered, and it took about two hours to separate the “Screw System” into its three core parts and lift off the transport (Top Cage, The Helix and The Trough). Separated to reduce the lifting weight and to ease its onward journey down the slippery slope onto its foundations.

The hydro’s ‘Beating Heart’ The Helix


The easiest way to install the Archimedes Screw into position on its foundations would be to use a crawler crane. However, the crane won’t be able to transport the screw to the hydro site itself, so the plan is to use a pair of diggers working in tandem—-watch out the JCB dancing diggers exhibition team, you have some emerging competition. We will do our best to capture some decent photographs of this daunting exercise.

That is the good news, now for information on a little bit of a setback that will give a programme delay of a few weeks.

Not only do we have obstacles like the unexpected rock levels to contend with on the site (as discussed in our previous newsletter), but we have also now uncovered some long forgotten Georgian masonry. While excavating the channel for the screw our contractors found a largely intact and fairly massive stone wall which “of course” runs diagonally across the screw channel outfall. 

Long forgotten Georgian masonry

Now we know why those 2 piles in the photo below stick up like sore thumbs. The wall can be partially removed but a section supporting the riverbank will have to be left in place. This will inevitably mean that the alignment of the outfall from the base of the piles to the river will have to be re orientated at ~30degrees to the screw channel. With a profile like an Olympic Bob Sleigh Run the output flow will be undiminished.

When we overlaid the 1873 & 1899 OS maps over our site block plan it was clear that the masonry wall (black dashed line on sketch below) was actually the original bank of the river and in fact extends all of the way up to the ancient stone and brick archway. Furthermore, behind the wall we found hardcore cutting in from the bank about 2.5m.  If you study the Estate Map from the early 1800s (below) it appears that this could be the remains of a road connecting Havannah Lane to the old archway

Finally, we’ve often speculated on the purpose of the archway and thought that, just perhaps, it was built as a means for diverting the river flow during the construction of Havannah weir in the late 1700’s. Lo and behold some support for this theory was discovered in the form of a stone spillway lurking beneath the silt extending out from the archway into the river.

Havannah Site

Next month do not be surprised to read about Roman mosaics under the control shed…….


The Boardwalk gets under way! 


Construction of the Boardwalk has now started. The work is being carried out by Redfox Countryside services. Approximately 80metres in length, it winds it way from Havannah Lane, through the woods and ends in a viewing platform overlooking the Archimedes Screw. There will be several Interpretation Boards located on the boardwalk to provide information on various aspects of the project and the habitats of the immediate environment and the River Dane itself. Sometimes it pays not to be “green”! The main posts that support the framework of the boardwalk are sunk about 1/2M into the very marshy, sodden ground. So, what a good idea to use 6” x 6” posts made from recycled composites—rot proof (sort of) and “green”. Unfortunately, we have quickly discovered that because of the nature of the manufacturing process internal blow holes are quite frequent. According to the supplier, these blow holes do not affect the structural strength, but sods law dictates that a blow hole will sometimes be present just where a fixing needs to go. We have a lot to learn from our Victorian forbears whose creosoted rail sleepers and telegraph poles have withstood the ravages of the last century or so!!

Recycled “Composites” post with Blow Hole.

Recycled “Composites” post with Blow Hole.

Weather dependent of course but is hoped that the Boardwalk will be substantially complete by Christmas.

Also, by Christmas, Dutton Contractors will have installed the final 80 metres of cable from Havannah Lane to the Powerhouse itself. The final run of cable is slightly thinner (95mm) to enable some flexibility to get it more easily terminated into the Power Control Cubicle. The cable will run on hangers under the boardwalk.

The control system development and testing is progressing well.  The system is based around a Programmable Logic Controller; devices of this type are widely used to control complex industrial processes. A sequencer function is needed to ensure that the system can start up and stop with the correct sequence of events. This involves controlling the compressor and associated valves which operate the sluice gate, the hydraulically operated disc brake on the generator / screw, and the setting of the speed control for the variable speed generator.  The start-up sequence involves opening the sluice gate to allow the forebay tank to fill, then releasing the brake and simultaneously starting the variable speed control of the generator.  The stopping sequence requires the running down of the generator to minimum speed then closing the sluice gate, stopping the generator, and applying the brake.

During normal operation, a speed control function ensures that the level of water at the weir head is constant by controlling the speed of the screw (and thereby the volume of water being diverted around the weir).  If the water level at the weir head goes up, the screw can speed up (thus generating more power) and if it goes down the generator slows down so that the level can pick up again.  If there is insufficient in-feed (during the increasingly rare “dry-spells”), the system stops, and the sluice gate closes, but automatically re-starts when the water level picks up again.

The system uses a range of measuring devices and sensors including water level detection, infra-red sluice gate position sensors, rotation speed sensors, generator and gearbox temperature sensors, vibration sensors, etc.  A comprehensive range of conditions are checked to ensure that everything is operating correctly, and warnings / alarms are raised should something malfunction. One critical function is the measurement of the electrical energy generated, to allow billing to OFGEM (for FIT payments) and to the factory using the electricity. The vibration sensors are used to give early warning of potential bearing failures in the drive train. One little niggle during configuration has been some difficulty to interface with the Modbus meter reading system. This has now been sorted and the plc can now read volts, amps, power, frequency, and kWh from the electricity meter.

In principle the range of monitoring and control functions are similar to those required in a modern car’s engine management system.

Finally, the operating status of the system is continuously monitored by a wireless link to a “cloud based” data logging and control system (a system called Mindsphere provided by Siemens).  This allows the operational staff to keep an eye on the condition of the system from their home computer or mobile phone and to take corrective action if required.  Text messages are automatically generated in the event of a malfunction to alert them to the problem.


This wireless link will be via 3/4G. We have yet to do a survey to decide the best place to put the antenna but in general there is good 3/4G coverage on this part of the site.

All of this work will hopefully pay dividends by minimising the actual on-site commissioning that will need to be done during the forthcoming wintery months.

A major associated piece of work also comes to fruition this month and this is our new website. The link is still the same, but the site has been completely refreshed


The interest in the project from the community has been fantastic and we wanted an easy to use website that will share as much information about Congleton Hydro as we can with a clean, modern look. We have used the WordPress platform, which is a popular open source blogging software, it’s mobile responsive and in the future, we will look to add a members area.


The site details the build of the project organised into the following sections: Technology, Education, Share Raise, Site History and Gallery. We will be adding more information over the following months as the project progresses. Once the build of the project is completed the website will be featuring our education events, green champions and the grants awarded to the community groups who we hope to help.

Please look, we would love to get your feedback!

So, progress continues albeit with some annoying and unwanted interference from our Georgian forebears! During the next weeks, work will continue to finish the “screw channel” complete with its “bob run” curved and banked outlet run into the river. The construction of the top and bottom foundation blocks will also take place with the screw securing “bolts” cast precisely into the concrete foundations. The forebay tank- which connects the inlet pipe system to the Archimedes Screw inlet has yet to be started. Once this is complete the final bends of the Weholite inlet pipework can be inserted and the whole Weholite pipe run “welded” to produce a secure leak free feed (this should provide some interesting photographs, as the welding is done from inside the pipe -even though it is 1.5M diameter, still not easy!)

The Power House can then be constructed and the Control System cubicle installed.

Finally, we will have the “dancing diggers” install the Screw on hopefully their perfectly aligned securing bolts! Once the screw is in position the gearbox and generator can be delivered to site (currently in store) and coupled to the screw shaft.

Obviously still a lot to do and with the Georgians having “screwed” us up a bit, our programme has now slipped a few weeks and it will be February before we have a trial start. Still not bad for a bunch of first time Hydro Volunteers!!!


Our “technical feature” this month is non-technical but its contents underpin the whole viability of the Project, from its inception, design, planning approvals, construction, ongoing operation and maintenance, repayment of monies to The Investors (capital and interest) and of course our whole project rationale — To raise substantial funds for worthy Community projects.

It’s titled The Balance Sheet – Flow v £’s, download below:

It really does illustrate that it does not matter how good your product/ idea etc is, unless it is based on sound financials, doom and gloom will be just around the corner.

It also perhaps illustrates how well rounded Engineers need to be—it is a great profession even though our Georgian Engineer forebears almost screwed us up, but then that is probably our own fault for not checking their drawings, that like all good Engineers, they had carefully prepared!!
We do hope you find the contents of this newsletter to be of interest, as always, we welcome your feedback on errors, omissions, suggestions for improvement and future features and articles. Please contact us via
Finally, thank you all for supporting Congleton Hydro using this unprecedented year of doom, gloom and outright fear. Just like the Hydro Project the prognosis for 2021 is somewhat brighter with hopefully this bloody virus transmission rate reducing and the prospect of a vaccine in the near future.
From all of us in the Congleton Hydro Team, we wish you…

A Very Happy Christmas!
Congleton Hydro Team
Dane Valley Community Energy Ltd (FCA Registration 7142)

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Renewable energy defies Covid-19 to hit record growth in 2020 Sun, 15 Nov 2020 22:33:35 +0000 The post Renewable energy defies Covid-19 to hit record growth in 2020 appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


Great to see a recent article in the Guardian, renewable energy continues to grow worldwide and according to the International Energy Agency renewable energy will reach record levels in 2020 despite the pandemic. 

The IEA report published on Tuesday says almost 90% of new electricity generation in 2020 will be renewable, with just 10% powered by gas and coal. The trend puts green electricity on track to become the largest power source in 2025, displacing coal, which has dominated for the past 50 years.

Read the full article HERE.

Thanks to our committed team and courageous investors Congleton Hydro will be producing green energy next year!

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Congleton Hydro Newsletter November Wed, 04 Nov 2020 18:28:24 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter November appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


Clocks Back but Hydro Progress is Forwards!

Despite the grotty weather during the period of October, progress made by our site civils contractor CT Construction Ltd has been quite positive although inevitably some slippage has occurred.

With the cofferdam in place (photo of this in last month’s newsletter) good progress has been made on the intake headwall and the inlet pipe trench. As soon as the concrete has been poured and set the Weholite pipe can be dropped in and the various lengths “welded” together. Just as a reminder, this pipe structure takes water from the river upstream of the Weir and feeds it into the Archimedes screw (via header tank system).

So, good progress on the inlet but what about the foundations and channel for the screw channel. Well, despite ground conditions making life difficult, the piling for the channel is basically complete although there remain some challenges with the rock level especially at the base of the screw. Some rock will need removing and the piles need to be pushed in further.

For those who like to see and hopefully understand the detail, the GA drawing showing the pile and rock levels overlay is shown below.

The photo shows the two sets of piles that form the basic channel for the screw. Unfortunately, the process of inserting the piles using a MOVAX (essentially a vibrating bashing attachment hanging off the digger arm!!) created a lot of noise. This carried quite a distance and disturbed and disquieted some of the residents in the local community. For this, we really apologise and will do our utmost in the future to keep noise to a minimum and give as much advance warning as possible.

Rock pipe levels
Screw outlet

So, in summary, good progress on the site construction but there are challenges to the programme due to persistent rain and rock levels.

Design of the Boardwalk that will facilitate education group and maintenance access to the generation site has been completed with the support of a structural engineer and a contract has been placed. The boardwalk structural design is such that it will support the weight and motion of a small tracked “digger” should any substantial ground maintenance work be required in the future, e.g. heavy log removal from the inlet. The boardwalk incorporates a sizeable plinth area at the site entrance (to safely accommodate a small education group), and a viewing gallery overlooking the Archimedes Screw. Construction will start in the next few weeks and hopefully be complete around the year-end.

The conceptual design for the proposed fish pass has been completed and a budgetary estimate put together for its detailed design and construction. This will now be passed to the Environment Agency for them to seek funding approval. It is not known whether this will go ahead, Landustrie has completed the manufacture of the Archimedes screw and it is ready for shipping. It is planned to arrive on-site at the end of November, exact plan for offloading and placing on the prepared foundations is yet to be finalised but we expect to use a pair of “synchronised” excavators at either end to do the lift and placement.

Flender in Leeds have completed the modifications to the gearbox/generator assembly and it will be shipped to site end of November (or when we have the screw in place and the powerhouse ready).


The testing of the Control Cabinet (Variable speed drive system, plc etc) has been started and control of generation capability into the grid from a test motor/generator set up has been satisfactorily demonstrated. We are grateful to Siemens for providing some space and facilities on the factory floor for this to be carried out.

The Archimedes Screw and the Gearbox coupled to the Generator, are the throbbing heart of the hydro system. With some water flowing in at the top, away we go, we have some electricity!!. Our system is rather more sophisticated and incorporates a Variable Speed Drive and an intelligent plc (programmable logic controller) control system that enables reliable generation over a wide range of flow rates whilst also ensuring we comply with EA regulations e.g. level of cosmetic water flow over the Weir. The Contol Cabinet, together with the gearbox and Generator have been generously donated by Congleton Hi-Tech company HMK. HMK is one of the UK’s largest and innovative Motion Control System suppliers in the UK and is also a key market channel partner of Siemens.

The Variable Speed Drive is designed and manufactured by Siemens. Siemens in Congleton is one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of variable speed drives. Units manufactured in Congleton are shipped to just about every country in the world (at least 95% of the factory’s output is exported) and the Congleton factory is one of the most efficient, productive and innovative factories within the Siemens worldwide portfolio.

Available to download below are two articles that describe the operation of this “beating heart” of the Hydro. Starting with “Good old Archimedes” and his Screw used to irrigate the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, we also take a look some of the other forms of water to mechanical power conversion (including some of the basic maths to make it look good!!!!) and then follow up by illustrating how mechanical (rotational energy) is translated into electrical energy. What is a Variable Speed Drive and how does it work? and also how it is used to optimise the electricity generation over a wide range of flow rates are also illustrated.

We hope you will see from these articles not only how the system works but in keeping with the likes of companies such as Siemens and HMK, our Hydro System maintains Congleton’s High Tech reputation. We hope you enjoy reading them.

With a small Volunteer group (thank you all) the Education Programme recently kicked off with a “ZOOM” hosted Induction and programme introduction. Part-funded by a grant from the Regional Communities Energy Fund,  the detailed Education programme and its various modules that support its core Objective of creating “Green Champions to better inform the future generation of the importance of our environment and its sustainability” will be the subject of a future article. In the meantime, we need to increase the breadth and depth of the team by having a knowledgeable KS2 person join us (existing/retired primary school teacher or person with equal knowledge) and also a Volunteer who would be able to help develop (and maybe present) some of the technology-based activities that the hydro system enables. If you are interested, we would love to hear from you, please drop an email.

Whilst on the subject of Volunteers, we again would like to thank all of you who have expressed interest in pursuing the various opportunities and helping run and maintain the system. Before long we will be able to better articulate these various opportunities via “Role Descriptions” and can then enter into a proper dialogue with yourselves. Again in the meantime, we are in need of help to install some of the site electrics (site wiring—mostly low voltage and powerhouse ancillary electrics eg control cabinet connections, 13A sockets for kettle !!! etc), we would be grateful for help from a practising/retired electrician or somebody who has good electrical knowledge. If you can help please contact us.

We hope you find the attached articles of interest and informative. If you require further information or have any questions please contact Paul Guymer and Mervyn Sara via email.
As with previous newsletters, we hope you have found this edition to be of interest and informative. We would welcome any feedback and suggestions for improvement, future topics etc.

Finally, in these uncertain times and November’s lockdown, with hands-on hearts, we hope our programme will not be impacted but in reality, we do not know what is hiding around the corner to bite us!! We hope for favourable conditions and fine weather!

So, until next month please take care with all you do and please ensure you stay safe.

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Congleton Hydro Project Update – October Mon, 12 Oct 2020 17:39:44 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Project Update – October appeared first on Congleton Hydro.



September has been the start of the realisation of the dream. During the past 4-5 years it sometimes seemed like Mission Impossible, well it is now Mission Happening. We have an access trackway from the main road and perhaps to the greatest relief of all, a roadway has been constructed down the steep gulley allowing machinery and material access to the actual construction site. It is amazing what the team have done with a few buckets and spades—we’ve just photoshopped in the digger image to make it look professional!!!

Access track installation
The stone to construct the track is “Pink Sandstone” from the Bridestone Quarry just a couple of miles to the east of Congleton, near Timbersbrook in the lee of the Bosley Cloud, and has been transported to the site by tractor and trailer.

Bridestone Quarry takes its name from a Neolithic monument which stands at the entrance to the quarry. It is believed to date from around 3500-2400 BC and is thought to be the remains of a much larger tomb which once existed on the site. The Bridestones is unique as no other example of such a monument is known to exist in England.

There are several suggestions to where the name ‘Bridestone’ originates including the suggestion that a newly married couple were buried at the site and the tomb was erected to mark their grave.
In centuries past, much of the stone was used in the construction of the road which links the two towns of Leek and Congleton. The Bridestones stands tall at the entrance to the quarry, a distinct testimony to the longevity of the stone which is still quarried at The Bridestones.

Further information on this ancient site can be found via

Progress has rapidly continued with the construction of the “cofferdam” (photo below) which forms the “buffer” to allow the deep trench to be excavated for the insertion of the inlet pipe which will feed the upstream flow into the Archimedes Screw. Last months newsletter looked at the technicalities of the inlet pipe and the use of Weholite. The Weholite pipe has already been delivered and its profile can be seen in the photo below.

The Weholite pipe has already been delivered

The background to the site geology, development, civil works and construction techniques etc can be found in the detailed article, click the button to download.

As site construction proper gets underway, no doubt we fill find some hidden issues, CTC, the civils construction company hopes to make good progress and possibly recover some of the time lost due to the delayed start-up, so all, please keep fingers crossed for reasonably fine weather!!

The 1km cable linking the generator site to Siemens has now been completed by Duttons, leaving just the final connection to the incoming circuit breaker at Siemens and the last 90meter from Havannah Lane to the generator output (this will be completed after the construction of the Boardwalk).

On the Electrical/Control System front, the Variable Speed Drive and PLC based control system has been powered up (capacitors re-formed!) and re-programmed with the data compiled relating to our system e.g. water level sensors, rotational speed sensors, sluice gate control etc. This hopefully will then make the fine-tuning commissioning on-site more straightforward.

Flender, in Leeds, is making good progress on the re-configuration of the gearbox and generator and Landustrie are well on with the manufacture of the “guts of the system” –The Archimedes Screw.

We have positioned a “wildlife” frequent frame camera on-site, mounted high up in one of the trees. More by good luck than judgement, its setup has been delivering some good photos of the site development. the logical place to store these images for your viewing would be on the website.

However, this is currently being redeveloped (you will I’m sure be really impressed in a few weeks when it goes “live”), so in the meantime, view latest project pictures our Facebook page.

A future “Technical article “ will take an in-depth look at the whole of the “Power Train” i.e. Archimedes Screw, Variable Speed Drive, Gearbox and Generator” including some of the mathematics that underpins the whole conversion from water power to electrical power.

The Archimedes Screw under Construction

The Education Programme

The Congleton Hydro Scheme, as well as generating “Clean Energy” and realising annual funds for Environmentally/Sustainability-based community projects, will also facilitate increased awareness of environmental and sustainability issues by the provision of an accessible Education Resource for local schools, colleges and community groups.

To properly realise these educational aspirations, we have developed an Education Plan. Whilst we recognise the potential educational value of our Hydro Scheme, so does the Local Authority (Cheshire East) who made the production (and subsequent implementation of such a plan) one of the planning approval conditions.

One of the core outcomes is to produce Green Champions who will be better able to inform the future generations and the wider depth and breadth of local (and wider) communities.

The realisation of such an ambitious plan demands sufficient resource and we have been fortunate to secure a substantial grant from DEFRA’s Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF). This grant enables us to have funds to develop and purchase hardware and software that will be needed to realise some of the educational modules. STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) is a key underpinner of the performance of the Hydro Scheme and it is only natural that the same will apply to some of the educational modules.  A copy of the Education Plan is available to download below, please read, it really is a driver for the future.

Whilst our own budgeted provisions, substantially enhanced by the RCEF funding give great support to the start-up costs of providing and generating the necessary hardware and software, the Human Resource to develop and the deliver these educational modules is woefully insufficient. However, this presents some great opportunities for Volunteers to get involved and help realise the ultimate goal of developing the Green Champions of the Future. The initially proposed range of modules and the key deliverables are covered in the attached education plan; however, these are embryonic and can be substantially further developed and enhanced to suit the “Customer base”.

To help develop and later on deliver the programme, we would welcome interest from a wide base of interested volunteers. Retired Educators – continuing to use your skills and experience, Younger Volunteers – opportunities to learn how to prepare and present material to the wider public—young and old.

Will really suit people who are enthusiastic and interested in contributing ideas and skills to design and deliver the agreed education programme. The metrics associated with the RCEF grant, call for a good degree of development progress by the end of the year, so we are keen for some volunteers to be able to join us as soon as possible. An Education Volunteer Role Description is attached to this newsletter.

It is for broad guidance of the requirements but not pedantically prescriptive. Although covered in the role description, if you are interested please contact,uk and we will get back to you in a short time.

Additionally, if you require further information/clarification before applying to join us, please contact Peter Lane or Bob Owen via

On the wider Volunteer opportunities associated with the operation and maintenance of the Hydro project, we are at last making progress with identifying potential roles. Whilst a future newsletter will take a more detailed look at the wider Volunteer programme an initial list of “headline roles/responsibilities” is attached.

Some of these become “operational” once the hydro is up and running, whilst some admin activities would add value more or less immediately. Detailed Volunteer Role Descriptions are in the process of being produced for all roles (similar to the attached education role description), together with a volunteer induction programme, volunteer policy and so on. As mentioned, this will be covered in more depth in a future issue but in the meantime, we welcome your interest via

Our thanks to all who have already contacted us with an interest in volunteering, we will be getting in touch with you in the near future to arrange a discussion via Zoom or Skype. Please bear with us, like yourselves, we are all volunteers but most of our time tend to get focussed on bringing the core project to fruition (i.e. wielding the buckets and spades!!!)

As with previous newsletters, we hope you have found this edition to be of interest and informative. We would welcome any feedback and suggestions for improvement, future topics etc.

So, until next month, please stay safe, take care and please, please keep your fingers crossed for decent weather!

As mentioned earlier, this month’s “Topic of Interest” looks at the Geology of the site and the constructional techniques (and constraints) that are being used to bring the scheme to fruition. We hope you find it of interest and informative. If you require further information or have any questions. please contact David Page via

Congleton Hydro Team
Dane Valley Community Energy Ltd (FCA Registration 7142)

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Congleton Hydro Newsletter September Fri, 04 Sep 2020 19:30:57 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter September appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


August was one step forward but the other step going nowhere. The cable installation started as planned and is proceeding to schedule with the first 500m laid between the hydro site at Havannah and Eaton Bank Academy. The second 500m is currently in the process of being installed and the link into the Siemens factory will be complete in the next couple of weeks.

Not just a length of wire but an essential part of the performance of the overall project, so it deserves a special focus and attached to the newsletter is an article that describes the cable itself, the installation process (not simple to lay approx.1Km of 3” diameter cable!!) and some of the associated regulations and technicalities that help define the choice of cable and the inevitable compromise between cost and performance. We hope you find the article informative.

Unfortunately going nowhere was our plan to start the civil construction work on site. As mentioned in the last newsletter we were planning to start site work on August 3rd. We thought everything was all in place but had not really foreseen that the turning radius of the articulated lorry (bringing the material to construct the access trackway) was greater than the width of the available portion of the carriageway of the Macclesfield road. Various bits of brainstorming did not find a timely solution, but the good news is that access is now sorted, and site work commenced on Tuesday, September 1st. This short delay does extend our completion date to end mid- February although we will endeavour to work with CTC to recover schedule as much as possible—if only the weather will stay fair!

One of the portions of the civil works is the construction of the inlet water system (in days gone by this would have been called the “leat”) that delivers water from upstream of the Weir to the inlet structure of the Archimedes screw. The cost/performance of this inlet water system has always been a slight niggle so the “free time of August” has been put to good use to find the best cost-performance solution. We hope you find the following few paragraphs of interest and help you appreciate the degree of design detail that goes into trying to achieve the optimum performance of the system.

The Conundrum of the Inlet Pipe

When it came to specifying the design of the turbine inlet pipe nothing was quite as straight forward as it would seem.

Some background info. The amount of mechanical power that can be theoretically generated by the Archimedes screw (Pth) is, among other things, a function of the falling height of the water (the so-called driving head (H)) according to the formula.

Pth Q x ρ x g x H
  • Pth = power theoretically available (W)
  • ρ     = density (kg/m3) (~ 1000 kg/m3 for water)
  • Q     = water flow (m3/s)
  • g     = acceleration of gravity (9.81 m/s2)
  • H = driving head (m of water)

So, the smaller the value of H, the less power can be generated.

Practically speaking, H is a measurement of the difference in the height of the water in the forebay tank which feeds water into the turbine, compared with the river level at the turbine outlet.
Inlet Pipe

For many schemes like ours the water level in the forebay tank is effectively the same as the level of the water at the crest of the weir. However, not so for the Congleton hydro scheme which relies on a 30m long-buried inlet pipe to feed the water from the intake structure located upstream of the weir to the forebay tank.

Gravity takes care of forcing the water through the inlet pipe but for this to work the level in the forebay tank must be slightly lower than the river level at the intake. (Water generally flows downhill). This difference in these heights is known as the inlet pipe head loss IPHL. The greater the value of IPHL, the smaller the value of the available driving head H and the less power the turbine can generate.

The inlet pipe head loss IPHL for a given flow rate is, in turn, a function of the pipe diameter as well as the roughness of the inside surface of the pipe. Larger pipes result in lower water velocities and lower head loss. Rough pipes surfaces impose more friction which in turn causes more head loss. The number and angle of any pipe bends, as well as the shape of the pipe inlet and outlet, also contribute to the size of IPHL

The Conundrum: The original design and the financial model for the Congleton Hydro scheme was based on the total inlet pipe head loss (IPHL) being no more than 200mm. This implicitly assumed the use of a smooth (low friction) pipe. However, it was much to our surprise when we recently discovered our cost estimation for constructing the scheme had been based on the use of a much less expensive corrugated pipe with a significantly higher friction loss. The difference in price between the corrugated pipe and the smooth pipe of equivalent size and design was greater than £10,000. However, the head loss through the corrugated pipe was determined to be 249mm vs 156mm through the smooth pipe. This might not sound much of a difference given the nominal overall design driving head (H) for the scheme is 3800mm, however over an extended period it would amount to a significant loss in power generation and revenue.

The Solution: To resolve this problem we looked a variety of different designs options in terms of their material, geometry, cost, associated head loss and other factors to arrive at the most cost-beneficial solution.
Potentially the most obvious and least expensive solution would have been to have specified a slightly larger corrugated pipe diameter to compensate for the increased friction factor. An increase from1500mm to 1800mm diameter would have apparently done the trick in terms of reducing the head loss. However, while the larger pipe itself was relatively inexpensive, the additional cost associated with the enlargement of the excavation and a more complex transition piece between the head wall and the pipe together ruled out this option. In addition, there was a concern about the buried depth of such a pipe being reduced to less than 0.3m.
We also looked at using smooth concrete pipe in both round and square sections. While the head losses were acceptable to cost was prohibitive.

The table below illustrates the impact on the capital cost of the project for 3 of the several options considered versus the predicted power generation of the scheme, the change in revenue and the resulting surplus cash after 25 years of operation according to the business plan. Clearly over a 25-year period, the 4-bend Weholite is the best option and should slightly improve the surplus cash generated. Corroborating this decision, was the possibility that the corrugated pipe would be more susceptible to fouling than a smooth pipe resulting in its actual performance being even worse than shown above. The chosen pipe is now on order and the delivery fits well into the overall project plan.
table of calculations

The concept of an Archimedes Screw generating electricity from the water flow over the weir might sound relatively simple, but as we have just seen the size and type of pipe has quite an impact on system performance. The control system to enable it to happen automatically and safely 24/7 is quite complex. We mentioned in the last newsletter that the control cabinet with integrated Siemens variable speed drive, gearbox and generator had been donated to us by local company HMK. Work has started in August to determine the programme needs of the system to meet the needs of and optimise the performance of our hydro system.
The essence of the control system is to regulate the braking torque and speed of the Archimedes screw and convert the braking energy into electricity.

The requirement of the abstraction licence granted by the Environment Agency is that the level of water over the weir is controlled (i.e. it must never run dry due to too much water bypassing it and flowing through the Archimedes screw). The faster the screw turns, the more water flows through and the more electricity is generated, but if the water level drops too much it must slow down.  Obviously, the amount of water available depends heavily on the amount of upstream rainfall.

Speed and torque control is achieved using an industrial 3-phase induction generator connected to a variable speed drive (VSD), which electronically generates a variable frequency voltage and applies it to the stator windings of the 3-phase induction generator. When braking torque is being applied to the generator, the energy from the VSD is converted back into the electricity grid using a so-called active front-end. This controls the voltage and phase of the ac waveform it generates with respect to the grid voltage at the Siemens sub-station to ensure that all the generated power is exported into the grid.

The whole system is supervised by a Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) which generates start-up and run-down sequences, including the control of a hydraulically operated sluice gate and a thruster-controlled disc brake. It also regulates the speed to keep the water level stable. Supervised monitoring and emergency stop system ensures that no single component or wiring failure can result in the screw running at an uncontrolled speed.  The PLC, which has been programmed from scratch in ladder logic using the Siemens Totally Integrated Automation (TIA) programming tools, includes an HMI (visualisation screens) and can be accessed remotely via a 3G data link.

The brain of congleton hydro

So, despite the poor turning circle of an articulated lorry preventing the earthworks starting, August has, in the overall scheme been a very productive month.

We have also started to look at the details of the Education programme—what do we hope to achieve? what the various modules will be? how will we prepare them? and crucially important how we will deliver them? The Education programme will be a key focus of next month’s Newsletter and especially the volunteers who are needed to help design, prepare, and deliver the various modules.

Being an embryonic organisation, we are starting from scratch with just about everything. Indeed, this is the case with Volunteers who are needed to maintain the scheme and we are now in the process of identifying the specific activities and the role responsibilities e.g. as mentioned above, the Education programme.

Volunteering has much to offer people, regardless of their age. For young people, the hydro project offers a living example of the importance of sustainability and the protection of the environment and will do much to support the school’s curriculum. For older volunteers, the hydro project will offer an opportunity to use their skill sets to help the organisation and also an active and productive activity for people who might otherwise have a sedentary lifestyle. Volunteers unite people from a wide range of backgrounds, abilities, and a wide geographic area, supporting social cohesion and generating friendships.

Next month’s newsletter will, as well as a focus on the Education Programme, take a detailed look at the volunteer opportunities and the headline role responsibilities presented by the Hydro scheme. In the meantime, we welcome input from anybody who has an interest in volunteering—please drop a note to contact us.

A big thank you to those who have already contacted us.

As mentioned last month, essential to the smooth and rewarding running of the volunteer activity is the role of the Volunteer Manager/Co-ordinator. Just in case you missed it last time, the role description is attached. Even if this does not interest you for whatever reason, it would be much appreciated if you could forward to family, friends, colleagues who might possibly be interested.

As with previous newsletters, we hope you have found this edition to be of interest and informative. We would welcome any feedback and suggestions for improvement, future topics etc please contact us.

So, until next month please stay safe and take care and please, please keep your fingers crossed for fine weather to help with the site work progress!!!

As mentioned earlier, this month’s short article is all about the Cable Connecting our Power to the Customer is available to download above. Not just a length of wire but a crucially important element in the success of the Hydro System. We hope you find it informative and if you have any questions or require further information please contact Paul Hopewell.

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Congleton Hydro Newsletter August Mon, 03 Aug 2020 20:23:15 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter August appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


July has been a month of hope and anticipation for the Hydro team. In last month’s newsletter, we mentioned that whilst all plans were focused on-site work physically starting during the week of August 3rd, there were two precursor activities outside of our control – the final planning approvals and our site access being dependent on the Congleton Relief Road progress. Well, we are pleased to say that both events happened, and site work will start on Tuesday, August 4th.

In respect of the planning, Arboricultural and ecological method statements, an education outline plan and boardwalk method statement were under consideration by Cheshire East Planning in support of our application to discharge ten planning conditions. Following a few refinements, the Cheshire East Consultees recommended the discharge of all conditions and we received the final decision letter to allow us to proceed with construction on July 31st.

Planners quite often get a lot of stick, but Congleton Hydro would like to express our thanks to Nick Hulland and the team at Cheshire East Planning for their timely and professional expedition of our necessary approvals. For those interested in viewing the planning discharge application and supporting documents, these can be found on the Cheshire East Planning Portal under application 20/2324D. 

Grahams, the main contractor for the Congleton Relief Road have also come up trumps and have ensured that the basic construction work on the Macclesfield Road is complete enough to allow our site construction traffic to access the field to begin the process of building the access trackway to the actual Hydro site.

Congleton Hydro would like to thank Grahams for their superb assistance in enabling us to reach this goal of ours and Dan Cawthra, their Community Liaison Manager who has kept us informed all the way.

The installation programme for the cable from the site to the Siemens factory has been delayed by a week as the cable itself is now scheduled to be delivered a week late on August 11th. Dutton’s can accommodate this delay within their plans, and it will not affect the overall programme.

Pre-construction documentation including the project Health and Safety Plan and Environmental Management Plan has been prepared by our principal contractor CTC Construction Ltd in association with DVCE especially David Page and Paul Guymer—well-done guys, lots of hard work.

The RCEF grant mentioned last month has now been approved and the agreement signed. The grant will be used to fund the Education Programme development, additional tree removal from the historic structures including the stone arch and island adjacent to the Weir and to prevent further root damage to ye olde stonework.

The Environment Agency, even though not requiring a fish pass as part of the main scheme, have since the project’s inception expressed a possible interest in a separate structure. The EA have now funded the examination of three optional designs for a Fish pass bypassing the Weir. These have been completed by our Principal Designer Derwent Hydro as a joint project between DVCE and the Environment Agency. The EA have selected their preferred option which is now undergoing detailed design and costing.

Essential to the ability to maintain the Hydro System is a Boardwalk to provide ease of access to the system itself, the water intake and the surrounding woodland. The Boardwalk is also a key enabler of the delivery of the Education Programme. Underpinning the design and development of both the Boardwalk and the Education Programme are two new members to the team.

Leading the Boardwalk Development (precise route, specification, contractor identification etc) is David Cook. David graduated as a Mechanical Engineer from UMIST. He worked with Proctor and Gamble maintaining process and packaging equipment and then joined their Operations Research Department. He continued his career for nearly 30 years as a management consultant with PA Consulting Group. His work, mainly at Board level, encompassed business enhancement through Customer-focused projects. He has lived in Congleton for 31years. His wife Jill is active in various local sustainability matters.

Spearheading the Education Programme Design, Development and Delivery programme is Peter Lane. Peter and his family have lived in Congleton since 1987. He was a secondary school science teacher and presently works part time as an educator with the Stoke Museum Service. Hobbies include playing badminton, cycling and visiting volcanoes (but not in Congleton methinks!!). Peter intends to ensure that the educational sessions we deliver at Congleton Hydro will be attractive, original, provocative and inclusive, illustrating the value both of sustainable electricity generation and of environmental conservation.
More of both the Boardwalk and Education programme in future newsletters.

Key to the operation of the scheme, of course, is the Electrical generator and the gearbox that couples it to the Archimedes screw. You will be aware from previous newsletters that the “Drive Train” package consisting of Siemens Generator, Gearbox and Variable Speed Drive was generously donated to us by HMK Ltd. Now we have ordered the Archimedes screw we are able to specify the changes needed to this package i.e. gearbox in/out mounting configuration. This work is being carried out for us as a special project by Flender in Leeds. The variable speed drive system needs to be programmed with our site-specific attributes (max/min speeds, alarm points for flow, blockage sensors, etc). Siemens has kindly provided some space in their factory for us to carry out this work. A future “Topic” will focus on the Drive Train and how it should enable us to maintain generation over quite a wide range of flow rates.

As mentioned last month, we will before long be able to identify the volunteer roles that will be needed to maintain the scheme, the woodland management, and the education programme. In the meantime, we would be more than happy for you to indicate a possible volunteering interest by contacting:

Essential to the smooth and rewarding running of the Volunteer activity is the role of the Volunteer Manager/Co-ordinator. A draft of the role description is above, and we would be delighted to hear from anyone with an interest in helping us fill this important position. Like all roles within DVCE Congleton Hydro it is unpaid. Please contact us.

We hope that you have found this newsletter to be of interest and also informative. Next month we will no doubt be bringing you news and hopefully photographs of the construction work, please keep your fingers crossed to hope for fine weather during the next few months!!!

This month’s short article on an aspect of the Project is available to download above. It takes a look at the inception of Hydro-Electric power Generation, the background to the current Congleton Hydro Project and a little of the history of the village of Havannah, “the Power of the River Dane” and their roles in 18th century industrialisation(the keen-eyed amongst you will hopefully spot the link between 1878 and the present day!!). We hope you enjoy the article but despite a lot of research we are still short on detail and information on the actual construction of Havannah Weir itself and we would be delighted to hear from anyone one who can provide us with more information not just on the Weir but any aspect of the industrial past of the Havannah site.

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Congleton Hydro Newsletter July Sat, 04 Jul 2020 20:52:18 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter July appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


With all the funding in place and the Hydro generation Scheme on course to be a reality (not just a dream!!), this is the first of a series of newsletters to keep you updated on key aspects of the project and progress towards generating the all-important Volts and Amps.

With each newsletter, we will also produce an information sheet on various aspects of the Project. A draft list is attached at the end of this newsletter; if there are any items not covered that you think may be of interest to the wider circulation please let us know and we’ll try to oblige.

Firstly, a quick review of an especially important aspect – The Monies!

A total of £703,000 has been invested via the Community Share Offer. Once again a Big Thank You to those of you who have invested -you really are the ones making the dream turn into reality.

A £57,000 Investment has been made by the Power to Change Community Share Booster Matching Scheme  – this has allowed us to prudently increase the contingency allowance by £30K.

In addition, we have received grants of £10,000 from the Cheshire East Bright Ideas Fund to enhance the boardwalk’s suitability for delivering the Education Programme and a grant of £73,000 from the Regional Communities Energy Fund to further enhance the Education programme and reduce the tree and vegetation ingress of the Grade II Listed Weir Structure. Both are essentially separate to the main project but contribute to the overall aims.

On Track, Despite Global Pandemics!

Despite restrictions imposed by Coronavirus, the whole project is moving ahead quite smoothly, and the hard-earned monies are being spent (within budget and with exemplary financial control and monitoring).

After a competitive bidding process, the order for the Archimedes Screw has been placed with Landustrie of the Netherlands, and installation / mechanical drawings have been approved with delivery expected on schedule in October.

After the Archimedes Screw, the most important element of the work is the Site Works and Civils Construction. The contract for this has been awarded to CT Construction. CT, based in the High Peaks, have good experience of projects being constructed on river plains and have also undertaken the civils for a similar Hydro Scheme.

Their Project Manager, for the Congleton Hydro Scheme, Oliver Tolputt is the current Chair of the NW Branch of the Institution of Civils Engineers. They are currently beavering away preparing all the necessary documentation, site plans, bills of quantities, Health and Safety responsibilities and organograms, etc.

They will physically start site work on August 3rd. A contract has also been placed with Dutton Contractors for the installation of the cable from the generator to Siemens (who are purchasing the power). The buried cable is just under 1km in length, crosses two public highways plus the land of a School Academy and a farm. We are grateful to these two properties for agreeing to enter into wayleave contracts for this work to be undertaken. The cable installation programme will commence on August 3rd and last a few weeks.

A key enabler for this work is the implementation/discharge of the “pre-work” planning conditions—mainly associated with tree protection and ecology/environmental updates. If you are interested, these can be viewed on the Cheshire East planning portal, application reference 20/2324D-A.

A lot of meticulous work has gone into the preparation of these planning submissions and with the support of the planning staff of Cheshire East Council, it is envisaged that the necessary approvals will be in place for site work to indeed start on during the week beginning August 3rd.

A worry during “the lockdown” has been any serious delay in the progress of the construction of the Congleton Relief Road, as these works directly affect the site access for our construction traffic. Work, however, has been proceeding and should be sufficiently complete for our site programme to go ahead without serious delay.

Finally, when will we be generating? Well, at one point during the lockdown when the world seemed to be ending (!) we were worried that the scheme would be seriously delayed. However, with the hard work and determination of all involved—ourselves, sub-contractors, Cheshire East Planning, etc. we currently plan to be generating by January/February 2021 i.e. only one/two months behind the original plan put together in “a normal world”.

Well done to everybody for coming together to make this work—augurs well for a successful project.

We hope you have found this update to be interesting as well as informative. We will strive to produce further updates on a regular basis. One of the near-term ones will look at volunteers needed and their important roles in maintaining the scheme and delivering the education programme. In the meantime, we would be more than happy for you to indicate a possible volunteering interest  by contacting:

We mentioned at the start of this newsletter that we would also produce a short article on various aspects of the project. The first of these can be downloaded on the button below, some of you may recall seeing this some time ago but we thought worth starting off with this as a reminder of what the Project is all about.


Congleton Hydro Team
Dane Valley Community Energy Ltd (FCA Registration 7142)

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Congleton Hydro Newsletter May Tue, 05 May 2020 21:12:14 +0000 The post Congleton Hydro Newsletter May appeared first on Congleton Hydro.


At long last, after four years of planning, designing, calculating, learning, rucks of hard work, despair and euphoria, progressing one step at a time and sometimes backwards Congleton Hydro is set to become a reality.

The Community Share Offer closed at midnight on April 17th and a grand total of £705,000 has been Invested by people from the local community and all parts of the UK. An Investment by the Power to Change’s Community Share Matching Booster Scheme* has ensured that the total investment has exceeded the target of £730,000 which is needed to fully fund the scheme.

Two core and critical parts of the project are the Civil works (documentation finalisation, site preparation, construction of the Archimedes Screw foundation plinths, inlet water feed and so on) To enable these to commence we also need to construct the site access track off the Macclesfield Road). The whole method of generation is based on water flow through an Archimedes Screw and the two shortlisted suppliers have been asked to provide their best and final offers for price and delivery. It is planned that we will place contracts for the Civil works and the Archimedes Screw within the next couple of weeks.
Site work is currently planned to commence by the end of June.

However, this will be subject to being able to safely work within whatever Coronavirus preventative restrictions will be in place at the time. Also, before site work can commence there are a few planning conditions that need to be implemented/discharged, including the traffic management requirements associated with access to the site and the construction of the access track itself. Coronavirus restrictions may hamper progress with these, however with the co-operation and pro-active support of Cheshire East organisations and officers it is hoped that timely solutions will be found.

The current plan is for electricity to be generated before the end of this year; this is still the target but because of the uncertainties associated with Coronavirus may slip into early new year.

As well as generating “green energy”, helping to reduce the sources of climate change and generating funds for Community Projects, the Project will also provide and resource an extensive Education Project to help inform school children, young people and other interested groups of the various aspects of sustainability, the environment and how technology plays an important role.

It is hoped that one of the outputs will be “Green Champions” who will be able to carry the knowledge into future generations.

During the course of the Project, updates will be provided on progress and descriptions of the various elements of the scheme eg The Education Programme, how is Electricity Generated, and so on.

So, with thanks to all who have invested there is a bright light in these days of uncertainty.

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