Lochwinnoch Community Development Company (LCDC)
Hydro Power in Lochwinnoch?
Water power provides a clean source of renewable energy with almost no carbon emissions. Lochwinnoch is fortunate in having many potential sites for hydro power which is an integral part of the heritage of our village; at one time there were eight water mills operating in and around the village. One site particularly promising site is the Calderglen Weir at Bridgend on the River Calder because of the existing structure with a large fall. The weir was built in 1787 to provide a head of water for two of the water mills in the village and Lochwinnoch Community Development Company (LCDC) has plans to restore the dam to its original condition and use it for electricity generation as a fitting tribute to the heritage of water power in the village. It is estimated that it could provide a regular income of up to £30,000 per year for the village.
The weir was built from large sandstone blocks and over recent years the top three courses have been washed away and both abutments are in a poor state. It is planned to bring the crest level back up to its original level and to restore the abutments to their original condition. Also included in the proposal is a fish pass as the River Calder offers some of the best spawning grounds for salmon and trout in Scotland and fish regularly reach the Bridgend Weir, which at the moment is a complete barrier to the fish.
Consultants looked at five possible hydro sites in and around Lochwinnoch and found that the Calderglen Weir offered the most potential. The proposed turbine will have a maximum output of 50kW and will be an Archimedes Screw. This type of turbine is based on well-established technology and is the most fish friendly type of turbine. It is estimated it will produce about 190 MWhr of electricity per year which is equivalent to the energy used by about 40 homes. The electricity generated will be sold to the national grid using a Feed In Tariff which provides a guaranteed income for 25 years.
Local residents have raised genuine concerns about the proposal including the visual appearance, the effect on the local environment, possible noise problems and traffic issues. LCDC, which is a local non-profit making company, is taking these problems seriously and is (at the time of writing) organising an open meeting on August 17th to raise awareness of the project at which these and other issues can be addressed. It also hopes to get community opinion on what to do with the income generated for the village should the scheme go ahead.
Martin Mansell (LCDC)
more information at http://www.lcdc.org.uk/hydro/