England’s 500-kW Kirkthorpe small hydropower plant officially opens

The 500-kW Kirkthorpe hydropower plant, hailed as the largest to be built in England since the turn of the century, was commissioned earlier this week, marking the end of a 15-month construction period.

The small hydroelectric project is located on the River Calder near Wakefield and is owned by Barn Energy subsidiary Kirkthorpe Hydropower Ltd.

The US$7.6 million facility uses a single Kaplan-style axial turbine, and was designed with a particular emphasis on the weir’s ability to safely pass salmon, eels and other wildlife through a large custom-designed inlet.

Kirkthorpe Hydropower representatives said the plant was completed within budget and on time, with nearly 90% of contracts associated with its construction awarded to British recipients.

The project is located on land owned by Wakefield Council and will use water per an agreement with the Canal & River Trust’s Aire and Calder Navigation. The developers said they worked in partnership with a number of agencies, environmental organizations and fishing groups throughout its construction.

The Kirkthorpe plant was designed by ANF Consulting and NJP Group, with the Eric Wright Group providing main civil engineering contracting services. Barn Hydro said the project has employed more than 100 people, with over 85% of the plant’s capital expenditures being spent within the West Yorkshire region.

The plant is Barn Energy’s second in Yorkshire. The first, located at River Don near Rotherham, is a 260 kW hydroelectric project that began operations in October 2015.

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