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Hydropower Energy Use – Export Or Local Use?

Hydropower Energy Use - Export or Local Use?

Energy – Export or Local Use?

How do you consider hydropower energy use? If a hydro turbine is close to a large energy consumer it may be possible to supply power direct using a ‘private wire’. This has the advantage of being able to sell the electricity generated for a higher price than can normally be achieved if exporting direct to the grid.

Normally what happens is that you work out how much you could get for the electricity generated if it was exported to the grid and then the large consumer finds out the cheapest price they could pay for buying electricity, then you agree a price somewhere in between the two. This means you get more for the electricity you generate and the large energy consumer gets electricity cheaper than they would otherwise pay. Such agreements are normally put into a proper legal agreement because this needs to be a long-term relationship because the cabling and switchgear can be quite expensive.

This set-up often has the additional advantage of a lower-cost grid connection because the large energy consumer normally already has a strong grid connection that requires no upgrades. Note that it is not a problem if the hydro turbine cannot supply all of the consumer’s loads – the deficit would be seamlessly imported from the grid. Similarly if the hydro turbine was not operating for any reason, the consumer would just get their electricity from the grid. If the consumer was shut down (at Christmas for example) the electricity would just be exported to the grid through their grid connection. Electricity just flows like water to the nearest load, so there are no switches that need throwing to achieve this – it all happens seamlessly and invisibly! There are more details on this kind of set-up in the Hydro Learning Centre.

If you can’t supply electricity to a local consumer don’t worry – most sites can’t – you’ll just need to get a ‘Power Purchase Agreement’ and sell all of the electricity to the grid.

Also note it isn’t really possible to supply power to multiple-consumers (a village for example) because the metering and administrative burden would be huge. Also there are complications with the electricity supply regulations that would be impossible to overcome for a reasonable cost. The Government is looking into ways of making local supply simpler, so this may change in the future.

Are you considering a hydropower project ?

Renewables First have considerable experience as a hydro consultant and have a full project capability, from initial feasibility study through to system design and installation.

The first step to develop any hydropower site is to conduct a full feasibility study.

Contact us about a feasibility study today!

Once complete, you will understand the site potential and be guided through the next steps to develop your project. You can read more about hydropower in our Hydro Learning Centre.

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