Hydro power could put old mills back to work

Pete Hill, micro hydro techincal project manager for Power from the Landscape, part of the Alternative Technology Centre, Hebden bridge, outside Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags
Pete Hill, micro hydro techincal project manager for Power from the Landscape, part of the Alternative Technology Centre, Hebden bridge, outside Gibson Mill at Hardcastle Crags
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Hydro-power could provide electricity to houses and shops in the Upper Calder Valley.

That is according to a worker at the Alternative Technology Centre in Hebden Bridge, which is surveying sites to determine which would be suitable for a hydro-pump.

The centre is currently running “Power from the Landscape”, a scheme which will assess which of the hundreds of former mills in Calderdale could be transformed.

Pete Hill, micro hydro project manager of Power from the Landscape, said that Gibson mill at Hardcastle Crags was an example of what could be achieved elsewhere.

“There are potentially hundreds of sites suitable for small hydro power generation and some that would support larger schemes,” he said.

“The site Gibson Mill provides all the electricity for the mill, which is about five houses worth of electricity, and that’s only a relatively small pump.”

Pete claimed that hydro was one of the most popular forms of renewable energy because of the limited visual impacts. “Lots of people are in favour of renewable energy but don’t want wind farms stuck all over the countryside,” he said.

“You don’t get that with hydro power.”

Unlike other renewable forms, hydro power must deal the problem of ownership.

“Money is always a problem with renewable energy and hydro is no different,” Pete said.

“The pumps can costs as much as £100,000, but will make about £10,000 a year. After ten years you’re making money, but people don’t want to make that kind of commitment.”

“It’s also hard to know who the mills belong to, and sometimes the rights can stretch over many land boundaries so it requires lots of different parities to reach an agreement.”

l Would you be happy with more hydro in Hebden? Email yoursay@halifaxcourier.co.uk