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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted -  09/12/2011  :  09:30

POWER FOR THE PEOPLE.

Once again the vexed question of alternative energy from wind power is being debated in the local press. My personal view is that wind turbines are a thing of beauty and I love seeing them slowly turning and producing clean energy. However, I don't want to get into an argument with those who hold opposing views beyond pointing out that when they refer to our 'unspoilt' countryside and natural views that they are talking about a landscape that has been modified by the hand of man since the first inhabitants of our area felled a tree or enclosed a field.

Being an historian I am more interested in another proven source of renewable, carbon emission free energy which we used in Barlick for hundreds of years, water power. I love the bulk of the Weets and Whitemoor looming over the town to the South West. I always remember Psalm 121; 'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help...' and no, I didn't have to look that up. Wycliffe Sunday School in Stockport and many years on the church choir embedded many parts of the Bible in my brain. Apart from being a superb protector of the town against the prevailing south west winds it gathers much of the rain which would otherwise fall on us and delivers it to the town down the many drains and gulleys which are the source of Gillians and Calf Hall Becks. Give our ancestors their due, they knew what to do with this water. True, some uses like handy natural sewers was one of the least attractive of these but they also managed the flow to power water mills. Ouzledale Mill was a saw mill and in later years a water-powered iron foundry. The Corn mill was driven by water and Gillians, Parrock, Mitchell's (later Clough) and Old Coates were all water driven cotton mills. County Brook Mill is in Barlick and used the water off the tail end of the Weets which flows down through Earby and onwards to the River Aire. Further down the valley towards the Ribble Valley, Bracewell Corn Mill was powered by the Stock Beck which was the combined flow of Gillians and Butts becks. For hundreds of years the water was used for useful purposes.

By the early 19th century steam power was developed and gradually usurped water power. The last working water wheels were at Clough where its power supplemented the new steam engine installed before 1827, at the Corn Mill where a turbine was installed in the mid 19th century and at County Brook where the wheel was still being used in the 1930s, Newton Pickles told me about doing repairs on it in the late 1920s when he was just starting work. However, there were easier ways of turning a mill after the 1930s, oil engines, gas engines and eventually electricity finally killed the old water wheels off. One of the things that I have often noted is that when a resource is no longer valuable to us, we tend to forget about it. Who can remember where the town wells were today? We have had no need for them since the 1890s when we got a mains water supply. The same thing happened to the power from the water running through the town, once it was not needed for the mills the old dams fell into disrepair and we forgot about it.

Of course the water is still there. That free energy source is still with us but in times like the Barlick Flood of July 1932 was seen as a danger, not a resource. Indeed it was the neglect of the water courses which allowed the high water running down from the moor to be so destructive. Incidentally this danger persists to this day and we have not yet addressed the matter of the choke points in the system. One of these days we may regret this.

Does anyone remember the 2009 initiative, 'The Barnoldswick Beckside Regeneration Scheme'? I suggested at the time that part of the project could be to install a water wheel or turbine in Clough Park powered by the same water that drove Ouzledale and Mitchell's mills providing not only an interesting feature but a source of energy. The Council were so taken by the idea that they asked for a copy of the article but since then I have heard nothing of it. My point is that I know of at least three useful sites in the town where, with minimal investment and no impact on the visual amenities, carbon-free renewable electricity could be generated and fed into the National Grid providing a small but reliable source of income. I have a friend who owns a water site who has done just this and over the years it has been profitable.

We are not talking about vast amounts of energy, in global terms it would be minuscule, but it would be a valid statement of intent and a tangible commitment to helping the environment. The stumbling block is of course the capital cost, perhaps we need to think laterally. Suppose someone pointed out to Tesco that within 200 yards of their proposed new store there was a water power site which could produce enough electricity to make a significant reduction in their energy bill, improve their carbon footprint and be a valuable public relations asset to them. I think that given the cooperation of the planning authorities a feasibility study might convince everyone that whilst this was not going to produce an enormous profit in the short term. In the long term it would pay for itself and the more energy prices rose, the more profitable it would be.

I don't expect Tesco or the Council to come knocking on my door because, like the town wells, these hidden resources have not only fallen out of mind but are automatically dismissed as pipe dreams. This could well be true but at least it's original thinking and I suspect we would get more progress on renewable energy if we thought the unthinkable, looked closely at the possibilities and didn't allow ourselves to be ruled by short term thinking. Such a use of existing resources would be Power for the People in more ways than one.

Butts Beck. This dam served the corn mill and is still in good order.


Stanley Challenger Graham




Barlick View
stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk

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Tardis
Regular Member


453 Posts
Posted - 16/12/2011 : 14:38


quote:
pluggy wrote:
Doing some wild guessimates on how much water could be turned to generating electric (0.5 m^3/second with a 20m head which translates to 50kw with believable turbine efficiency - half a ton of water a second dropping 70 feet) and working on it could average half that over time (probably wildly optimistic, it reduces to a dribble in dry spells ). Using todays feed in tariffs it would generate about £30,000 a year.  If  it cost 500 grand to install with 5 grand a year running costs. It would take 25 years to payback which is probably the realistic lifetime of the kit.

Unviable even on those figures. Half a ton of water a second is a lot of water,factor in the fish mincing element and it gets silly.....

I can believe those figures, although I think Pendle went with a minimum 40' drop over a distance I have not remembered.

All the people that I have talked to think that you'll probably have to add in quite a large bill from the Environment Agency, and fairly regular intrusion into any operation from them too. On those grounds alone I would hesitate before considering any kind of small scale hydro scheme.

If you also had to regularly engage with the Wildlife people too you'd have far too much of your time taken up with just answering questions.

The one scheme that I half remember being identified is at Brierfield Mill, and I'm not sure if I was told that this opportunity might be taken up. I think the stumbling block is whether or not the project will provide any income or just feed directly into the mill's consumption.


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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 16/12/2011 : 16:02
There's a table low down on this web page showing the effect of direction on the output from PV roof cells.  [LINK]


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pluggy
Geek


1164 Posts
Posted - 16/12/2011 : 17:02
Huge difference between using a beck to cool condensers and using it to directly generate electric.  20 metres head was a figure I thought was acheivable, the amount of power is directly proportional to the head and the flow of water.  If its on an incline, there are substantial losses in the pipework to be allowed for.  The technical part of it is daunting enough without the Environment Agencies involvment.

Something I didn't know until today that the 3 largest power stations on Earth are all hydro-electric.  The largest is on the Yangtze river in China (3 Gorges Dam). It could generate enough for the UK base load on its own (22.5 Gw)


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 05:45
I once came across a report of a study to build a reservoir abve Gillians but have lost the reference. A lot of water up there!


Stanley Challenger Graham




Barlick View
stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk Go to Top of Page
Tardis
Regular Member


453 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 10:17


quote:
Stanley wrote:
I once came across a report of a study to build a reservoir abve Gillians but have lost the reference. A lot of water up there!

wasn't there once a pool above Spring's farm?



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panbiker
Senior Member


2300 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 11:05


quote:
Tardis wrote:


quote:
Stanley wrote:
I once came across a report of a study to build a reservoir abve Gillians but have lost the reference. A lot of water up there!

wasn't there once a pool above Spring's farm?

Yes there was, the footpath through the farmyard and up onto Esp Lane used to run along the front of it. I have just had a look on Google Earth and it looks like it has been filled in and turned back to pasture. You can clearly see the extent of the area of the dam though. Dont know when it was filled in, certainly there in the 50's / 60's when I was lad and used to mess in the beck tickling trout!

 

Edited by - panbiker on 17/12/2011 11:12:40


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Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 11:46
quote:
pluggy wrote:
Something I didn't know until today that the 3 largest power stations on Earth are all hydro-electric.  The largest is on the Yangtze river in China (3 Gorges Dam). It could generate enough for the UK base load on its own (22.5 Gw)
Pluggy, plenty of power but plenty of risk too. I wrote the following in the Attention thread last March:
"The Chinese have built many enormous dams, much bigger than any we have here and they are on seriously big rivers like the Yangtze and Yellow rivers. If one of these dams fails the water will rush all the way down the river valley and flood plain to the sea. These are long rivers, the Yangtze is 3rd longest in the world at 4,000 miles running from the mountains of Tibet to the sea at Shanghai. The Yellow river is 6th longest in the world at 3,400 miles, flowing across nine provinces of China.

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze is the largest in the world and when full its reservoir is over 400 miles long and holds about 40,000,000,000 cubic metres of water. There is a second large dam and more being built on the river. The Yellow river has 14 dams for HE power. Wikipedia lists 31 major cities lying on the Yangtze river and 8 on the Yellow river. You can see how the failure of even one of these big dams would drown millions of people in the cities and countryside between the dam and the sea. The vast amount of water will clear everything in its path, including dams lower down the valley, and through cities and on to the next cities and even when it begins to spread out on the plains the water will flood the countryside over major areas of China."




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panbiker
Senior Member


2300 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 14:24
Not on the same scale but not the same risks either. Superb concept and some interesting statistics regarding electricity from water power

Dinorwig Power Station

Still the largest of it's kind in Europe.


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tripps
Senior Member


1404 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 15:53
Surely a good use of the output from the wind generators during the night?  We need another Brunel, and a government which sees beyond the next election.


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panbiker
Senior Member


2300 Posts
Posted - 17/12/2011 : 16:18
I does not really matter where the power comes from during the pumping cycle as long as it's cheap. The main use for Dinorwig is to give more or less instant demand when required at peak times. They monitor TV channels to predict when all the kettles will be switched on. Probably need a boost tonight before and after the "Strictly" final!

0 - 1320MW in 12 seconds, should make a few brews!

I dont think we nescessarily need a new Brunel, we already have the expertise. What we actually need is a 5 or even 10 year plan like the Yanks did in the 1930's to kick start them out of the deppression. Invest heavily in the infrastructure and use the currently unemployed to provide the muscle. Would fix loads of problems all at once but as you say it needs a government thinking past the next term.


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Stanley
Local Historian & Old Fart


36804 Posts
Posted - 18/12/2011 : 06:01
Long term thinking and political time scales are mutually exclusive.....

Springs Dam still there as far as I know. Originally built/improved by Billycock Bracewell in mid 19th C to regulate flow to his mill at Butts. Never owned by him, always the property of the owner of Springs Farm. A lot about the dam in the Calf Hall Shed minute books. The proposal for the reservoir above Gillians was a separate matter and investigated when Barlick public water supply was being planned. Eventually they settled on the Elslack site which serves the town to this day.

It would be relatively easy for Springs to run a small turbine and produce enough power to reduce the energy costs of the houses there.

Newton and I built a combined heat and power plant for his house on Vicarage Road. I reckon we reached 85% efficiency which was amazing in the 1970s. Over 30% more efficient than the best diesels, Gardner's and RR Eagle.


Stanley Challenger Graham




Barlick View
stanley at barnoldswick.freeserve.co.uk Go to Top of Page
panbiker
Senior Member


2300 Posts
Posted - 18/12/2011 : 10:45


quote:
Stanley wrote:

Springs Dam still there as far as I know. Originally built/improved by Billycock Bracewell in mid 19th C to regulate flow to his mill at Butts. Never owned by him, always the property of the owner of Springs Farm. A lot about the dam in the Calf Hall Shed minute books. The proposal for the reservoir above Gillians was a separate matter and investigated when Barlick public water supply was being planned. Eventually they settled on the Elslack site which serves the town to this day.

It would be relatively easy for Springs to run a small turbine and produce enough power to reduce the energy costs of the houses there.


I have had another look on Google Earth and on closer inspection it does look like it is still there, contrary to my previous post. The margins are considerably overgrown with trees which does tend to hide it unless you look carefully on the aerial view on Google. The overall area looks a lot smaller than I seem to remember it as well. Maybe that was just the peceptions of a small child although I used to take my kids on walks up there as well when they were small and still remember it as somewhat bigger than it appears now.

Edited by - panbiker on 18/12/2011 10:49:13


Ian Go to Top of Page
Tizer
VIP Member


5150 Posts
Posted - 18/12/2011 : 11:32
I hadn't realised that the Economy 7 electricity charging tariff was brought in originally to cope with the output from the nuclear power stations which couldn't be shut down at night. I suppose that was pre-Dinorweg.


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pluggy
Geek


1164 Posts
Posted - 18/12/2011 : 12:24
It would be relatively easy for Springs to run a small turbine and produce enough power to reduce the energy costs of the houses there.

A very small turbine.  The beck running down springs is only part of whats available further down.  The resovoir behind Springs dam is almost inconsequently small when talking water turbines.  If we inject some guessimate figures. I'll assume that you can get a ton(ne) of water a minute from the beck on a permanent basis and you could achieve a lossless 10 metre drop within the confines of the land. That comes out at about 800 watts. Combining the feed in tariff and the saving on electric over 12 months comes out at around £1400 a year (the feed in tariff is much less for hydro than solar). If you can keep a tonne a minute up all year and assuming there are no stoppages.  You're probably looking at £5000 minimm in materials and a significant labour of love to get it running. (it wouldn't be worth paying somebody).   

A small solar plant would be a lot easier, cheaper and give a better return even at todays reduced FIT.


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pluggy
Geek


1164 Posts
Posted - 18/12/2011 : 12:55
I studied CHP with the OU on the way to my degree, its a severely compromised technology in the real world, it only really works as advertised in very specialised areas.  The power efficiency is reduced because the cold sink temperature is elevated (so its useable for heating) so you really need to have a use for the heating all the time you need the electric.  You wind up dumping a lot of waste heat in summer while not getting as much electric as you could from the fuel you're burning.

  Combined cycle power stations (Gas turbine + steam turbine) make a lot more sense in most scenarios than CHP. High efficiency due to the very high hot end at the power turbine in the GT and the close to ambient cold end at the condenser of the steam plant with all the output being electric.


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