Most common FAQ’s
Who supports your project?
We worked with the Environment Agency, North York Moors National Park and the River Esk Action Committee to develop the project. We have received financial support from the North York Moors National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund, North Yorkshire County Council Community Fund, Keyfund Yorkshire, European Union, Co-operative Society. The local Parish Councils, Borough Council and County Council were all in favour of the project and we received letters of support from CO2Sense, East Cleveland World Development Movement, Friends of the Earth Whitby, Kirkbymoorside Environment Group, Scarborough Borough Council’s Sustainability Officer, Whitby4Sustainability, Whitby 10:10 and Yorkshire Energy Partnership. Click here to download the letters.
Questions asked at events.
Why is the screw ‘Fish friendly’? The screw is 2.9m diameter and the water entering at the top moves down as a bath of water that is big enough to accommodate large fish , one metre long easily, and the fish swim out when the ‘bath’ of water reaches the bottom. Also the screw rotates relatively slowly (less than 27rpm)
Can the fish travel up the Archimedes screw? No they only travel down the screw and up the adjacent fish pass.
Will logs damage the screw? No. There are deflector posts in the river and screen bars 100mm apart to prevent entry of logs and large branches. Logs and branches that pass through the screen bars are easily accommodated.
Is the amount of water you take from the river regulated? Yes. We have an ‘Abstraction Licence’ from the Environment Agency that allows us to abstract 4cumec of water. The amount taken is controlled by an automatic sluice gate.
How much energy will you produce in a year? 160,000 Kwhrs in an average year equal to enough energy for 45 houses. This is calculated based on average annual flow information (2012). This was then revised once the turbine was commissioned and during the first 5 years of operation (2012-2017) we have generated approximately 120,000 kWh / annum or approximately enough energy for 40 homes, reducing carbon emissions by about 65 tonnes per year.
Why is the generator connected to ‘the electricity grid’, can’t it be used locally? There are no buildings close by to use the electricity. Also if there were some nearby, for it to be worthwhile, they would have to need a large amount of electricity 24 hours a day.
Have you got planning permission approval? Yes
Will there be a problem of noise from the equipment? Noise reduction measures are included in the equipment specification and Scarborough Borough Council Environmental Health Officer has reviewed the proposals and does not anticipate any noise issues.
Are local people involved. Yes, the majority of our volunteers are from the Esk Valley and Whitby. The local primary schools are very interested and want to be involved in seeing how ‘Green’ energy is produced.
Will it be possible to see how the screw is operating. Yes. We have a number of open days each year and show the amount of energy being generated in real time on our website.
What happens if you don’t raise enough money? You would get your money back less a small amount to cover the administration of the share issue.
An update on the research relating to fish passage can be found in our section on Protecting the Fish
You may have seen various letters in the press recently with regard to the effect of small-scale hydroelectric schemes on migratory fish such as salmon. As a local community group and residents of the Esk Valley we care about the local ecology and environment ourselves. We thoroughly researched the hydro project for 4 years before deciding on the type and location for the turbine.
We work closely with the Environment Agency, the North York Moors National Park Authority and the local angling community with whom we have joint liaison meetings to air concerns and address issues as they arise.
We have enjoyed the support of several public meetings in Whitby and the Esk Valley when explaining the details of the project.
Analysis shows that the installation of the turbine will be good for both the community and the environment. The type of turbine we have chosen is recommended by the Environment Agency for locations such as Ruswarp and it has been proven to be fish friendly by research carried out on salmon and trout rivers.
The turbine is an Archimedes screw which turns very slowly. So slowly that fish can safely enter at the top and be gently lowered to the bottom and swim out unharmed. It will also be very quiet with the predominant sound being the water rushing down the adjacent fish pass.
An improved ‘state of the art’ fish pass, eel pass and lamprey pass will be installed, all designed by the Environment Agency, which will improve the ability for fish, lamprey and eel to traverse the weir. By taking the advice of the EA we have located the turbine adjacent to the fish pass which has the added benefit of attracting fish to the fish pass. There is also an existing second fish pass well away from the turbine
Our close liaison with the Environment Agency has allowed time for them to establish a research project to monitor the migratory fish movements at Ruswarp using state of the art 3-D underwater tracking. This has been underway for more than a year and will enable them to monitor changes in the migration pattern over time.
The following is the risk assessment which was undertaken as part of the Business Plan put together to obtain the loan from the North York Moors National Park Authority Sustainable Development Fund.
Likelihood – high
Of high likelihood is an increase in the loan interest rate. Bank interest rates are at an historic low and are widely predicted to increase. The financial forecast includes a sensitivity analysis to consider the effect on the project of interest rate increases.
Likelihood – medium
Of medium likelihood is the succession plan for people to manage the project through its anticipated 25+ year life. Currently the majority of active members are 50+ in age but there has been renewed interest from younger members of the community. It is hoped that the proposed apprenticeships will open up a broader cohort from which future project leadership will come and mentoring will be a part of this. Should this not occur, the Society would approach a generating company to manage day to day operations.
Likelihood – low
Of low likelihood is localised weir failure. However, the extant weir supports local business (boating) and also permits upstream abstraction of water by Yorkshire Water. It is likely that a small failure of the weir would be repaired by the Environment Agency (EA) (as in previous occurrences) or in co-operation with the Society. Catastrophic major failure of the weir (thought unlikely) would severely impact the project but Yorkshire Water would have an urgent need to repair the weir to allow continuing water abstraction to supply Whitby. Changing weather patterns may increase the water flows; these have been modelled in the original design. Reduced water flows would reduce electricity production and a sensitivity analysis has been undertaken on the effect on the financial forecast.
The successful commissioning of the completed turbine is dependent on the manufacturer and installer continuing in business. It is anticipated that stage payments will be made to the contractor, in arrears, for work completed to minimise the financial risk to Esk Energy.
The proposed technology is proven with many working examples across the world The technology has been shown to be ‘fish friendly’ and the simplicity of the design allows for uncomplicated maintenance. Protective measures already designed into the system will prevent (for example) tree damage. Any failure of the electrical grid would be repaired by the distribution network.
The EA’s own employees are on record saying that the turbine will help to improve fish transit up the weir. However, the EA fish monitoring project will continuously check the correlation between fish movements and turbine operation to allow for remedial action. In the extremely unlikely case that the EA were to discover the project had an adverse effect on fish populations and decided to revoke the Abstraction Licence the operation would cease until remediation measures could be implemented.
The principal tariff for the electricity production is the Feed in Tariff. This, when signed, is contractual and set to rise by the RPI. However, it is possible (though unlikely) that the government could revoke or change the law. More likely is that renewable energy sources benefit from better returns than planned as demand for them increases.
The planning process identified local concerns regarding noise, amenity etc. Full noise studies were undertaken and additional capital has been allocated for noise abatement measures. It is hoped that the project will attract interest and therefore enhance amenity in the area.
Vandalism is thought unlikely as the site is on private land with restricted access across the main Middlesbrough – Whitby railway line. Access from the road, the other side of the river, requires traversing the long weir which would be hazardous).