A site survey is the first step – there needs to be a vertical drop and natural water flow. The survey will calculate the potential costs and benefits.
Each site and design will have to be deemed acceptable by the Environment Agency. It may request surveys, including studies on the possible impact on fish stocks.
Each site will need planning permission from the local authority.
The initial outlay for a hydro scheme can be high, taking into account the surveys, permissions and equipment. Pete Hill says the cheapest scheme is around £10,000. The average would be between £40,000 and £100,000.
Through the Clean Energy Cash Back scheme, generated power can be sold to the national grid and used by the site owner to power their own premises.
A ten kilowatt system, producing ten kilowatts an hour every day for 365 days a year will bring in £19,272 a year – a sum guaranteed by the government for twenty years. However, that’s the maximum and realistically it would be about half this amount.
IS water power the future?
Three Huddersfield home-owners believe so.
And organisers of a unique energy-making project think micro hydro-power generation could be the next big thing thanks to modern technology.
Three people in the Slaithwaite, Scammonden and Marsden areas have set the wheels in motion for power by water.
And British Waterways have looked at installing micro hydro-power at Aspley, although that idea has been put on hold.
Small-scale hydro-electric schemes are not seen to have the same potential as wind power in financial terms, with a cost of anything from £10,000 to £100,000 and above.
Leaders of the Power from the Landscape project say around two dozen sites in the Pennines have been surveyed for their potential under the project, funded by the rural regeneration partnership Pennine Prospects.
Project manager Pete Hill, an environmental biologist, said: “In some cases the sites have already been proven because they were used many years ago to power the mills of the industrial revolution.
“Hydro turbines are more efficient on an installed capacity size-for-size basis than any other form of renewable energy, but the total potential electricity hydropower could supply is not as much as wind power.
“Nevertheless there are potentially hundreds of sites suitable for small hydropower generation and some that would support larger schemes.
“Many people who consider this option are motivated by their environmental concerns – they believe in the benefits of renewable energy, but this isn’t just a decision of the heart it’s also a business decision and you need a business plan.
“Hydro is not as straightforward as other sources of renewable energy. Each site is unique.”
The project is funded by Leader, a government-backed scheme that supports environmental projects, and is managed by the Alternative Technology Centre in Hebden Bridge.
There’s already one example of water power working at the Gibson Mill National Trust site in Hebden Bridge.
Mr Hill admits water power is a complex matter.
He added: “The schemes in the Huddersfield area are waiting for permission from the Environment Agency, but people see it as an alternative to wind power.”