What are the current FiT levels for hydro?

For a scheme up to 15kW the FiT rate is 21p. For a scheme of between 15 and 100kW the FiT rate is 19.6p. A scheme in excess of 100kW and up to 2,000kW will receive 12.1p. http://www.fitariffs.co.uk/eligible/levels/

For how long is the FiT guaranteed?

The FiT for hydro and wind schemes is guaranteed for 20 years from the date of commission.

What is the current export level?

The export level is currently between 4 and 6p.

Is inflation added to both FiT and export level each year?

No, only the FiT is index linked. The export tariff is based on the current electricity price which usually leads inflation.

What are your best estimates of the costs to construct scheme?

It is very difficult to provide an estimate of the cost of a hydro-electric scheme as each scheme is different and is designed specifically to the site characteristics including head, flow, ground conditions, existing infrastructure, catchment characteristics, landowner demands, grid connection, environmental considerations etc.

As a rough guide typical costs for a 15kW scheme may between £80-120,000. Typical costs for a 100kW scheme may be between £400-600,000. Generally speaking a scheme with a lower head and a larger penstock diameter and intake structure is more expensive to build.

Grid Connections

Generally speaking a scheme that doesn’t benefit from a Three Phase Grid Connection will be limited to an export of 17kW. Due to the FiT banding it is therefore best to restrict a scheme to a size of 15kW. We are seeing the development of sites with a ‘split phase transformer’ which allows more than 17kW to be exported however there are only a handful of these transformers in Wales at the moment, albeit that they are widely used in Scotland.

A site that benefits from a Three Phase Connection can export much higher levels of power however it is not a given that the capacity exists and therefore exact figures cannot be gained until the District Network Operator is formally consulted.

How much rent will NWHP pay me?

Given that each scheme is different it is not possible to give a blanket rental figure. The figure depends on the site, the complexity, levels of existing infrastructure and whether the landowner wants to be provided with free electricity for example. Typically rents are between 5 and 10% of the total gross revenue depending on the facts however if there is more than one landowner then this will need to be split between the parties.

Do you need permission from the Environment Agency?

Yes, we need to obtain several licences from the EA before any work can commence. The EA’s role is to:

“make sure that hydropower schemes include appropriate measures to protect the local environment. We want developers to prepare successful applications which comply with environmental and other legislation. For any scheme we need to consider:

Abstraction – we need to agree the amount of water that a scheme can take from a river to flow through a hydropower turbine.

Impoundment – any new or raised weir will change the water levels and flows in the river. We need to agree these changes.

Flood risk – we need to give our consent to any works in or near rivers that have the potential to increase flood risk.

Fish passage – for many schemes we will require a fish pass to allow fish to pass safely up and down the river.”

Will a formal Environmental Impact Assessment be required?

Only schemes greater than 500kW require an EIA. NWHP generally work on schemes below this threshold however in certain circumstances EIA’s can be enforced on smaller schemes. However despite no requirement for a formal EIA an environmental report will be prepared to show how we have assessed the environmental issues relating to the site. The scope of the report will be prepared in consultation with the EA and the LPA if required.

Would business rates be charged against a scheme?

Yes, unless it is seen as a domestic installation.

What are the running costs for a scheme?

These include the following:
– Business Rates
– Insurance
– Operation and Maintenance
– Replacement of key parts after 10/15 years
– Electricity and Phone Charges

The capital costs sound high, what is involved?

The capital costs include the following:
– The turbine itself and all the drives, generators and valves etc.
– Controls
– Pipe costs and welding of the pipe together
– The civil works to create the intake, screens, pipeline, and the turbine house etc. Additionally any new access tracks and routes up to the abstraction point.
– Electrical works within the turbine house plus transformer if required, plus connections costs including any upgrading of the grid if required.
– Design and licence fees etc.