Having taken over my aunt’s converted watermill in Cornwall in 2011, we inherited what must have been one of the first hydro schemes installed in the South-West. The first decision we had to make was whether to update the existing scheme, based around a reconditioned Francis turbine installed in the 1970s, or replace it with a more efficient modern turbine.
We commissioned Renewables First to carry out a feasibility study and the results were not unexpected. An updated Francis turbine, even with the river in flood, would only ever operate at 50% of capacity because of the limitations of the site. Guided by them, we took the decision to install a new 25 KW cross-flow turbine made in the South-West by Ecowave.
We tasked the Renewables First team with using as much of the existing infrastructure as possible while keeping civil engineering work to a minimum – not an easy job given the restricted nature of the site.
The result was a resounding success. The technical skills shown by the team and their dedication to delivering the scheme on time and to the highest possible standards was outstanding.
In the Spring of 2016 we reached a decision that the pre-existing screen used to prevent leaves, wood and fish from passing through the turbine, was no longer fit for purpose. We had no hesitation in asking Renewables First’s sister company, GoFlo, to design and build a new automated filter screen to sit in the leat across the entrance of the penstock. This was installed in the autumn. After a few minor adjustments, we now have a modern hydro scheme, capable of operating in all conditions, throughout the year.
We would have no hesitation in recommending Renewables First to anyone contemplating the installation of a small-scale, hydro-electric scheme.