Since we started generating
Storm Christophe 20th January
Two of us attended at 9am - always in pairs for safety- but observing Covid precautions.
There were about six inches (150mm) of water covering the floor and rising. It was rising up from the sump under the turbine house which connects directly with the stilling basin. We started the basement pump which can remove about 200 litres per minute and it was having no effect on the water level.
We decided to close the by-pass valve which always opens when the turbine stops. (It HAS to open up when there is no flow through the turbine in order to ensure enough water goes down Chew Brook - that is 16 million litres per day, by law!). We could do this just then because the massive overflow from the dam (that was giving us the trouble) was certainly maintaining the flow down Chew Brook. And some! But we would have to watch carefully, and if the dam overflow ceases, open our valve IMMEDIATELY!
The effect was to reduce the speed at which water was flooding into the turbine house. The pump could keep up with the flood and slowly reduced the level. Eventually we had a nearly dry floor, but we decided not to restart the turbine as its outflow could restart the flood.
Once the water level in the stilling basin had dropped, we successfully re-started the turbine.
Loss of Mains
Every time there is a local power cut, the turbine was shut down and our team had to restart it, often remotely from a phone.
We now have the new Loss of Mains relay fitted by Electricity NorthWest - which will give us much better resilience to slight shifts in phasing and frequency taking place on the National Grid.
We took the opportunity to replace one badly (and two lesser) overheating fuse carriers - which highlights the need to remove this element from our system.
This all shows how dependent we are on the knowledge and enthusiasm of our excellent team of maintenance volunteers.
Another good year for generation. During the financial year turnover increased by 38%. We have benefitted financially from a combination of a wetter than usual year (particularly in the autumn/winter of 2019/2020), a new sales contract with a higher price for our output, some additional one-off income streams which related to our output. We were able to put £25,000 be put into the sinking fund. This will go a long way to providing cover for likely replacements or other contingencies.
The maintenance team were able to carry on working safely under Covid restrictions.
New Share Offer 2019
In 2019 we issued another share offer to maintain a vibrant local base of shareholders, to provide for repayment of shares when requested and start to build up a sinking fund for replacement of major items of equipment. This gave us about 30 new, local shareholders and raised £18,500.
2019 Good year for generation: Plenty of rain, in overflow almost continuously from August onwards and few shutdowns.
Drought Summer & Autumn 2018
Dove Stone Reservoir fell to a very low water level: about 10 metres below capacity level of 31 metres. We had a dry autumn after a dry summer. United Utilities retained water in the higher reservoirs of Yeoman Hey and Greenfield because the take off to the Mossley water treatment works is from Yeoman Hey. It would have made no sense for them to allow water in to Dove Stone unnecessarily only to pump it back up. While UU did warn us that they might apply for a drought order to reduce the amount of water that they have to supply Chew Brook, they managed to avoid doing so. Consequently about 180 litres per second continued to flow through the turbine all summer. However, the lower water level led to reduced pressure so by the end of November we were only generating at about 28 kW. Wet weather in the first week of December provided enough water for the reservoir level to rise significantly, so power generation started to approach normal levels.
Normal generation regained in winter 2019, but few occasions when the reservoir was in overflow.
Dove Stone Reservoir November 21st 2018
Visitors from Easter Europe
During Community Energy Fortnight we had a visit from four eastern European delegates to the Community Energy England conference in Manchester. They were interested in community enterprise development.
Turbine spinner replaced and generation back up to 43kW.
Turbine replacement 2017/18: a detailed account of this complex task
Component of air pressure intake valve became dislodged and fell into the turbine spinner damaging three blades.
Spinner was put out of balance and a new one is needed.
Generation of 40 kW is still possible while repairs are organised.
Launch of Sustainability fund:
Community Energy England Open Day jointly with Oldham Community Power
Visit from Uppermill Brownies
Changed sales to Smartest Energy. This should reward generation in times of greatest grid demand.
Visit from North Sweden Development Agency
We were pleased to host a Swedish group looking into funding methods for community enterprises.
Cardinal Newman College students paid us a visit and saw how physics calculations are essential tools for engineers.
A presentation was given to Oldham Schools Eco Conference
Community Energy England Open Day attracted some of our shareholders who had not yet seen us in operation, interested folk from afar and a number of passers-by.
Our maintenance team had more challenges to deal with: loss of connection to the grid caused by a failure on the part of Electricity North-West, persistent tripping of a relay and failure of the control system CPU. All these difficulties were resolved and we learnt more and more about the workings.
Visit from Oldham Youth Council under Generation Oldham scheme
The night of November 13th 2015 saw torrential rain in Saddleworth such that the reservoir, which had been pretty low for most of the autumn, filled up rapidly. It overflowed with such vigour that the water in the stilling basin became extremely turbulent.
The turbine went offline and while our maintenance team was trying to figure things out, the turbine room flooded to the depth of a couple of inches.
Getting us up and running again took over two weeks, requiring help from Ecowave, the suppliers, and much persistence from our team.
Faults eventually diagnosed included
a blown fuse in the stilling basin sensor circuit
a faulty export power meter.
burnt out relays in the hydraulics which control the balance of water going through the turbine and the bypass outlet.
We are still not at all sure as to whether these things were all triggered by the flood or were coincidental.
Similar torrential rain on Boxing Day did not affect generation and the turbine turned on merrily. A wet winter gave plenty of opportunities for maximum generation.
Community England Awards, Oxford 5 September 2015
showcased and celebrated the communities, projects and individuals that are at the forefront of the community energy revolution.
Saddleworth Community Hydro was presented with the Community Energy Collaboration Award by Jonathan Hazeldine, Head of Marks& Spencer Energy. This recognises a ground breaking venture in terms of an association between a small community group and United Utilities who own the reservoir.
March - August 2015
We gave a number of presentations: Oldham Probus, Chadderton & Failsworth Rotary, Stockport U3A, Saddleworth Civic Trust.
We also had visits from the University of Oxford Alumni and Love Lydgate.
Craig Taylor (Ecowave), Phil Davis (Renewables First), Richard Rider (Renewables First)
Bill Edwards ( Chairman Saddleworth Community Hydro) and Peter Gill ( United Utilities) still celebrating the next morning.
Presentation to Power Generation Seminar of Institute of Diesel and Gas Turbine Engineers
Talks given to local groups
OFGEM accreditation final gained in August
Two Articles published in Clean Slate, the journal of The Centre for Alternative Technology
Guest Blog published on website of Institution of Civil Engineers
Winners of the Community Award of NW Branch of The Institution of Civil Engineers Awards 2015.
With a few glitches, 43 kW (higher than expected) regular production is maintained.
First payments from OPUS arrive
Accreditation with OFGEM proves to be more challenging than expected
Thorough Review of the project started with the aim of providing a "Lessons Learnt" that we can share with other groups working on similar enterprises.
Year 10 pupils from Saddleworth School visited the site to engage in activities about energy generation for GCSE physics.