Arcadian Times



Ham Hydro Power

Last Tuesday September 28th, Friends of the Earth organised a talk given by Chas Warlow - joint project manager of the Ham Hydro project giving details of the project to create hydro power at Teddington Weir at Langton's bookshop, Church St. Twickenham.

The Ham United group was formed in 2006 to promote green initiatives in Ham. In 2007, turning their attention to green energy the group became involved in the idea of developing a hydropower project at Teddington Weir. In early 2009 the group then commissioned a local renewable energy consultancy, Thames Renewables, to produce a feasibility study for the project. This study demonstrated the clear viability of such a scheme and the steering group then decided to form a community interest company, Ham Hydro CIC, to take the project forward. In July 2010, they were able after a few hurdles and an initial rejection, win the contract to supply hydro power at Teddington Lock.

The plan is to place four Archimedean screws at Teddington Weir. (It should be noted that for Hydropower a reverse Archimedes screw configuration is used. The water flow over the weir drives the screws rather than a force drawing the water up). Construction is due to start in 2012.

The Thames Anglers' Conservancy have concerns about the plans. They are worried about the effects the plan will have on the environment and the ecology of the Thames at the lock. One concern is fish. The Ham Hydro group believe the screws that they will be using are fish friendly and will not jeopardise fish stocks or threaten the fish themselves. Then there is the question of silting. With the four screws creating a downwash effect, the river bed is likely to move and create deeper pools at the points where the screws are concentrated. Added to that there are concerns at the actual cost of the electricity that is being generated and whether it will actually be more expensive than "normal" electricity.

The project is costed at approximately 2.5 million pounds. There will be a share issue to local residents and other sources of incomes will be from environmental grants and the tariff of the electricity sold to the grid. It should be understood that the electricity generated will not be powering the locale directly, but is rather sold to a green electricity company that only sells electricity from renewable sources.

At the talk the discussion recognised the need for clean energy. The problem is will renewables fulfill our needs or be cottage industries? There is of course the nuclear option which divides opinion. The problem of nuclear waste is always a contentious issue, even though nuclear energy is both clean and inexpensive.

The local MP's from both sides of the river, Vince Cable and Zac Goldsmith are supportive of the scheme both emphasing the need for renewable energy. Certainly the Ham Hydro project is stimulating a worthwhile debate.

The Ham Hydro group can be found here. An example of a community hydro power scheme can be seen here.

Article: Arcadian Times, October 5th, 2010