JOHN Healey MP has inspected a new £2.1m hydropower project at Thrybergh.

It is the first project of its kind in Yorkshire and is set to start generating renewable electricity in September.

It is one of just a handful of large low-head hydropower (LHHP) developments in the country that are the first to be built since the 1920s.

Using twin ‘Archimedes screw’ turbines, it will extract power from the river Don and supply sufficient electricity for 300 homes in perpetuity.

It also includes fish and eel passages which open up another stretch of the river and are part of an ambitious long-term plan to get salmon back up to Sheffield, where they can spawn.

Mr Healey said: “The scheme is interesting and impressive, and the developers have worked very closely with anglers and conservationists.

“This will be a valuable, permanent, renewable and sustainable source of energy.

“I’m delighted the first scheme in Yorkshire is in the constituency and am keen to see the government put in place support and incentives to allow other similar schemes to go ahead.

“This is the type of true renewable energy project the government should be backing more strongly, because it can improve rather than intrude on the local environment.”

The Thrybergh weir facility is being built by Barn Energy, a hydropower company working on multiple hydropower sites in Yorkshire and the East Midlands.

The project will produce 1 million kWh (“units”) of electricity per year for at least 100 years. A solar farm would require 10 acres to generate the same amount of energy, and would have a limited lifespan of around 30 years. The hydropower project, once completed and with proper maintenance, will generate renewable electricity indefinitely.

Mark Simon, director of Barn Energy Ltd, said: “It was a great honour to show Mr Healey the Thrybergh hydropower project – no one who visits the scheme fails to be impressed by the positive and sustainable nature of what is being built here.

“We are proud to be putting the industrial waterways of England back to work as power generators, while introducing unique environmental benefits which serve to mitigate the damage done by industrialisation.

“We hope to be supported in building many more projects of this nature on the major waterways of England.”

Oliver Coppard, project manager of the Dearne Valley Eco-vision, which John chairs, also made the visit with Mr Healey.

Mr Coppard said: “Through the Dearne Valley Eco Vision we are working to transform the Dearne into a leading low carbon community, so this hydro scheme is fantastic to see.

“We’ll be working with the developers over the coming months and years to make sure that we’re able to showcase the site to local schools and across the community, as an example of just how exciting our low carbon future can be.”

Low-head hydropower facts

  • It is the longest-term source of renewable electricity. Once installed, operating and properly maintained a LHHP station will continue as designed for over 100 years
  • It provides baseload electricity supply when it is most needed in autumn, winter and spring, 24 hours a day
  • Once running through its season, it provides a steady and reliable non-intermittent supply
  • It is efficient, converting up to 85-90% of the potential energy derived from rivers flowing over weirs
  • It is also efficient to distribute, typically being close to the population
  • It delivers unique environmental benefits on rivers with barriers where it introduces new upstream fish and eel passages
  • Of every £1 spent on LHHP, 80p is spent in local UK economy on permanent civil engineering works