Hydropower is power derived from the energy of falling water, and has been around for centuries. The Greeks used water wheels to grind wheat into flour more than 2,000 years ago. In the 19th century American and European factories used water wheels to power industrial machines.
In the 20th Century Hydropower lost out in competition with cheaper fossil fuels. However, in the last few years, concern around global warming, pollution and energy security resulted in a renewed interest in Hydropower. Rising energy prices and government subsidies in the form of ROCs and FiTs now mean that hydropower schemes are now economically attractive and attracting renewed interest from investors and landowners with suitable watercourses.
Most hydro sites in Scotland are classified as ‘small run-of-river'. ‘Small' generally means less than 10MW,and ‘run-of-river' means the hydro scheme takes water when nature provides it, using a small, discreet weir and a buried pipe – very different from ‘storage' schemes which use a larger dam.
Project management and financing
Hydro power project development can be time consuming, complex and risky, and it requires a mix of engineering, project management and financing skills and expertise to bring projects to fruition. It is also essential to manage projects in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The Gilkes Energy team engages with the various stakeholders; SEPA/EA, SNH, planning authorities, neighbours and local communities in order to ensure that all parties are engaged and informed, every step of the way.
The overall capital cost of hydro projects is significant and includes:
Civil costs (intake, pipeline, powerhouse, access roads).
Electrical and mechanical costs (turbine, generator, control equipment).
Grid connection costs.
Development, planning and project management costs.
Financing & legal costs.
It is essential to calculate costs properly and fully fund projects from the start to avoid delays and unnecessary risks. The Gilkes Energy team has relationships with investors with significant financial resources available and has developed a sophisticated financial model to ensure all variables are captured and all projects make economic sense.