PowerSpout microhydro

edited 18 April 2013 at 8:48PM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
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OffGridLivingOffGridLiving
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edited 18 April 2013 at 8:48PM in Green & Ethical MoneySaving
After an hour of casual, directionless surfing I stumbled across the PowerSpout : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQXwvQfIL-M

The Grid Enabled version is £999 and according to the calculator, I could produce 120w. I chuckled to myself when I saw this figure, but then I did a bit of maths and realised it would be running 24hrs a day producing 2.88kw/h per day (120w/hr x 24hrs) and 1052kw/h per year. Well, if my maths are correct, anyway.

Before I stumbled across this, I wouldn't have even considered the generation of 120w as being viable but I guess over a 24hr period it can really mount up. I'm sure I read somewhere that the average UK home consumes 300w per hour, so this would produce a 1/3rd of the energy required by the average home, even more if the home was more energy efficient.

I was wondering how that compared with solar, ie. what size panels would someone need to get similar annual outputs?

From a pure discussion standpoint, it also made me wonder what the smallest amount of energy people would be prepared to produce before they threw in the towel?
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  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Forumite
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    Looks great but can't see it working for me :(

    On the other hand being Scotland, what if I connected the inlet of the turbine to the outlet pipe into the stream for all our gutters. Powered by rainwater, an alternative to a water butt ;)
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    Hiya OGL, I did a similar thing a few years back, when I read about someone calculating they would 'only' get about 60W from their water source. Once you add it up, it does start to get interesting.

    Something in the 100W to 300W range would be ideal for baseload, depending on the set up costs. And would work well with PV and/or wind.

    Slightly jealous when I read about people buying old watermills. The combination of utilising the old water trace, a nice roof, and a little land for a small wind turbine, probably makes for a nice package.

    To compare with annual PV generation, 1,000kWh pa is approximately 1kWp of south facing panels in the very south, and about 1.4kWp in the north of Scotland. Also the FIT rate for small hydro (upto 15kW) is higher than PV, and 'safe' for another year:

    http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/Environment/fits/tariff-tables/Documents1/FIT%20Tariff%20Table%201%20April%202013%20Non-PV%20Only.pdf

    Mart.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • jackyannjackyann Forumite
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    When I was talking to the Centre for Alternative Technology, they reckoned that you needed a drop of 2 metres to get decent hydroelectric generation. This was awhile ago m(don't take my word for it, I didn't write it down!) I do suggest you contact them and discuss it. I found them very sensible & pleasant.
  • Hi Mart, unfortunately, the powerspout doesn't qualify for FIT payments, I'm not sure why. I suppose if we ever did go ahead with this, we'd never have enough excess energy to export to the grid anyway as 120w or so would just run the fridge, freezer and other items that are constantly on.

    I was reading somewhere that most watermills won't easily convert to powering a generator because the water flow/head isn't sufficient. Something to do with the turning of a waterwheel and mill stone being mechanical and so requiring less 'umph' than the fast spin of a generator and that any gearing taking as much energy as it produces. Again, I'm not sure why but it seems a shame because it'd be nice to see a waterwheel turning and knowing that it's actually performing an important function too.
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    Hi OGL. yep, I've read similar about mills, from comments and advice (I've nosily listened (read?) in on), you're spot on about the gearing. The mills have huge low rpm torque, rather than high rpm hp. Some of the gear ratios and multiple ratios employed are interesting to say the least.

    Also some of these old mills in UK and France now have dilapidated generation kit, where they were converted a long time back, but not maintained as FF generation and grid supply increased.

    Is there anything more impressive and beautiful than a waterwheel in operation?

    Very recent article on the National Trust. They are using more and more of their resources to generate their own leccy. Up to 50% now. Shame they are anti-wind!

    The first pic is awe inspiring, and the article mentions low-head generation half way down:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-22189743

    Mart.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • pwllbwdrpwllbwdr Forumite
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    Many watermill sites in the UK are low head but used a lot of water. The powerspout in the video in the OP wouldn't be suitable.

    There is an increasing array of technology available to harness such a site, but it is much more expensive to install than high head low flow turbines, which can be very cheap and cost effective.

    I have had a feasibility study done at my location (head 1.6m). With the limits on water extraction typically applied by the Environment Agency, the workable system for me would be about 7kw. They don't generate at peak all year, and often will shut down completely for a few weeks in the summer.

    Yearly generation for a 7kw system on my location is estimated at just over 33000kwh. Problem is the cost. These are physically large bits of kit and need groundworks accordingly. Grid connection and control is expensive, and there are a number of obstacles to obtaining permission from the EA - impact on flooding, fish and so on has to be assessed and this can involve expensive reports.

    Low head technology includes things like Archimedean screw
    (see http://www.mannpower-hydro.co.uk/casestudy.php)
    Zuppinger water wheels (see http://www.picoenergy.co.uk/waterwheels) and a few others.

    I could use a propeller turbine like http://www.powerpal.com/lowhead.html
    or a similar one on the Navitron website or the low head one also shown on the powerspout website. The issue here is that you would have to go through all the permission formalities, fish screening and so on for a lower power generation. Those costs become prohibitively expensive a lower power as they don't scale in proportion.
  • Kernel_SandersKernel_Sanders Forumite
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    w per hour
    There is no such measurement.
  • rogerblackrogerblack Forumite
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    There is no such measurement.

    Yes, there is.
    If my power use is 10W/hour, then at the end of the first hour it's 10W, at the end of the tenth 100W.
    W/h is a valid unit.

    Watt-hours - watts * hours - is what's meant in most cases of course.
    A 100W light bulb uses 100W * however long it's on energy.
    The electricity company typically charges you per unit of energy - (it happens they use 3600000J, 1000watt-hours, or 1kWh).
  • Martyn1981Martyn1981 Forumite
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    rogerblack wrote: »
    Yes, there is.
    If my power use is 10W/hour, then at the end of the first hour it's 10W, at the end of the tenth 100W.
    W/h is a valid unit.

    Slightly baffled too! Perhaps the Kernel was making a point about the 'little' w, rather than a 'capital' W?

    Mart.
    Mart. Cardiff. 5.58 kWp PV systems (3.58 ESE & 2.0 WNW)

    For general PV advice please see the PV FAQ thread on the Green & Ethical Board.
  • Perhaps the Kernel only deals in kilowatts per hour? It does seem a paltry amount of energy generated when expressed in watts per hour, but as we have already discussed, it is being generated 24hrs a day, 365 days per year.
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