Construction of 500kW small hydropower plant near West Yorkshire under way

A new low-head hydropower project on the River Calder near Wakefield is expected to generate 500 kW of energy when it is completed later this year.

The US$7.6 million plant is being developed by Barn Energy subsidiary Kirkthorpe Hydropower Ltd. and will run around the block for about 11 months per year, with a life expectancy of at least a century.

"The Kirkthorpe scheme will help to massively reduce carbon emissions in the Wakefield district”, council cabinet member Clir Denise Jeffery said. "By ensuring that more renewable energy is available, we can help protect the local environment and provide reliable, clean energy for future generations."

The small hydro plant will use a single Kaplan-style axial turbine, with particular emphasis placed on its weir's ability to safely pass salmon, eels and other aquatic species through a large custom-designed inlet.

The project is located on land owned by Wakefield Council. The developers said they worked in partnership with a number of agencies, environmental organizations and fishing groups throughout its construction.

The Kirkthorpe plant was designed by ANF Consulting and NJP Group, with the Eric Wright Group providing main civil engineering contracting services. Barn Hydro said the project has employed more than 100 people, with over 85% of the plant's capital expenditures being spent within the West Yorkshire region.

The plant is Barn Energy's second in Yorkshire. The first, located at River Don near Rotherham, is a 260 kW hydroelectric project that began operations in October.

"Yorkshire is leading the way with low-head hydropower in this country, and helping to drive a new wave of investment into the country's infrastructure," Barn Energy CEO Mark Simon said. "They are very long-term sources of clean electricity. With the right tariff structure and finance in place, we can build more and larger hydro projects across the north of England, making it a true 'northern powerhouse'."

Simon said his company next plans to build a small hydro plant at the Brotherton Weir near Knottingly, but that its construction depends largely on its ability to finance its projected $9.36 million cost.

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