Yorkshire’s largest ever hydroelectric power plant officially opens in Wakefield

14 March 2017

Over £5m has been invested to launch a new hydroelectric power plant at Kirkthorpe, near Wakefield.

The new plant is the largest low-head river hydro plant ever to be built in Yorkshire and the largest plant commissioned in England since the start of the century.

Sir John Armitt, deputy chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission and former president of the Institution of Civil Engineers, officially opened the plant on Monday (March 13th). .

Harnessing the flow of the River Calder, the 500kW Kirkthorpe scheme has a turbine to generate renewable electricity, enough to supply 800 homes in perpetuity.   

The £5.3m plant will generate electricity 24/7, 12 months of the year, for the next 100 years.

The development has been completed on time (a 15 month build), on budget and with 88% of the contracts placed with British companies, many of them local to the area.

Kirkthorpe is the second river hydro scheme that Barn Energy has built in Yorkshire; its smaller Thrybergh scheme, on the River Don near Rotherham, opened in October 2015.  

A third project, at the Brotherton Weir on the River Aire near Knottingley and close to the old Ferrybridge coal-fired power station, is scheduled to enter operation before the end of this year.

ANF Consulting and JNP Group designed the project, whilst Eric Wright Civil Engineering, part of the Eric Wright Group, was the main civil engineering contractor.

In developing Kirkthorpe, the project team worked with Wakefield Council, the Environment Agency and the Canal & River Trust to ensure that there were no detrimental impacts from the project.   

As part of the project, a custom-designed passage and screen has been built to enable salmon, eels and other migratory fish to safely navigate the hydro scheme.

Sir John Armitt said: “I’m delighted to have been given the opportunity to open Kirkthorpe and see another fine example of British engineering.  

“It is particularly welcome to see further investment in the nation’s permanent energy infrastructure as this is a priority for both the Government and the National Infrastructure Commission.“

Mark Simon, chief executive of Barn Energy, added: “Kirkthorpe is a significant and long-term investment in Yorkshire’s energy infrastructure and all credit must go to those involved in its design and construction.   

“Kirkthorpe delivers clean and sustainable energy to local homes and businesses and will further improve the quality of the River Calder for future generations to come.   

“The development of Kirkthorpe has benefited from the support of many groups and individuals in particular our shareholders, Wakefield Council, the Canal & River Trust, the Environment Agency and local angling clubs.

“Kirkthorpe and its two sister projects in Yorkshire are pioneering examples for the Government’s much vaunted Northern Powerhouse. With government support, we would develop more hydro projects in Yorkshire and in other parts of the country.“

Original article , Bdaily