Water is providing the power for parts of our valley again

From the left are pictured Polly Webber, director of the Alternative Technology Centre, Flash Atkins, local superhero and site owner, also known as Ben Davis, Eddie Davis, and Peter Hill, project manager at the Hebden Bridge site
From the left are pictured Polly Webber, director of the Alternative Technology Centre, Flash Atkins, local superhero and site owner, also known as Ben Davis, Eddie Davis, and Peter Hill, project manager at the Hebden Bridge site

An innovative hydropower project based in the upper Calder Valley is celebrating the completion of its first installation – the only one of its kind in the country so far.

Power from the Landscape, run by Hebden Bridge’s nationally-acclaimed Alternative Technology Centre, with support from the Technology Strategy Board’s Smart Awards, is working to restore hydropower to the region - which once prospered thanks to its abundance of water-powered mills.

And the new Powerspout Pelton turbine, on a small stream overlooking Hebden Bridge, is the first of what project manager Peter Hill hopes will be many more like it in the area.

“It was a very exciting moment when we switched on the turbine and saw it working. To see hydropower being used again in the Calder Valley, where it played such a vital role for so long, seems completely right and proper.”

The Pelton wheel turbine is capable of generating around 12 kilowatt hours of electricity per day – enough to power the owner’s house and feed some back into the national grid.

It works by harnessing the power of the stream’s steep downward flow: The water hits the turbine’s spoons at high pressure, causing them to rotate and produce power, and uses just six litres of water a second.

This type of system is known as a high head turbine, because it is designed to be sited on a section of stream which has a certain vertical drop, in this case 16 metres.

“There are so many streams in the area with the potential to produce renewable electricity,” said Peter. “We hope this ground breaking installation will inspire more people to start thinking about the possibilities of producing their own power in a more ecological and sustainable way.”

The Hebden Bridge installation also boasts crucial parts manufactured by Pennine Wind Turbines of Eastwood, Todmorden. Permission for the turbine was granted after lengthy and detailed consultation with the Environment Agency and Calderdale Council’s planning department.

The planning process also involved several ecological studies to determine there would be no negative environmental impact on local habitats.