NEW HYDRO-ELECTRIC PROJECT BEING BUILT ON RIVER CALDER: Renewable energy project at Yorkshire’s largest weir at Kirkthorpe, near Wakefield

18th April 2016


A new low head hydro project is being built on the River Calder at Kirkthorpe, four miles east of Wakefield in West Yorkshire (film link). Work on the project has started after Wakefield Council granted permission to Kirkthorpe Hydropower Ltd, a subsidiary of Barn Energy, to build and operate the scheme. When open later this year (2016), it will generate enough electricity to power 800 homes and will be Yorkshire’s largest-ever low head hydro-electric project.

The £5.3m hydropower scheme will use the flow of the River Calder to power a single 500kW axial turbine that will generate around 2.3million units of carbon-free electricity per year, equivalent to the consumption of 800 households. It will run 24/7, 10-11 months of the year, for at least the next 100 years. Salmon, eels and other migratory fish will be able to pass the hydro scheme’s weir safely, protected by a large custom-designed inlet screen.

The Kirkthorpe project is Barn Energy’s second project in Yorkshire. Its first, which is situated on the River Don at Thrybergh near Rotherham, entered service in October of last year (2015) and is generating electricity at full capacity. In addition, Thrybergh’s fish passage has resulted in Atlantic salmon being seen upstream at Aldwarke Weir on the eastern edge of Rotherham for the first time in 150 years.

The larger Kirkthorpe scheme is being developed on land owned by Wakefield Council and it will abstract water from the Canal & River Trust’s Aire & Calder Navigation. As part of the consenting process, the development team worked closely with Wakefield Council, the Environment Agency, the Canal & River Trust as well as local angling groups and are continuing to do so during construction.

Cllr Denise Jeffery, Wakefield Council’s Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Skills, said: “The Kirkthorpe scheme will help to massively reduce carbon emissions in the Wakefield district. By ensuring that more renewable energy is available we can help protect the local environment and provide reliable, clean energy for future generations.”

More than 100 people are working on the Kirkthorpe project, many of whom working for companies based in Yorkshire and the north of England. Yorkshire’s ANF Consulting and JNP Group designed the project whilst the Eric Wright Group is the main civil engineering contractor (all were also responsible for the timely delivery of the Thrybergh scheme). Over 85% of the cost of the Kirkthorpe project is capital expenditure spent in the region’s economy.

Mark Simon, Chief Executive of Barn Energy and Yorkshire Hydropower Ltd said: “Yorkshire is leading the way with low-head hydro power in this country, and helping to drive a new wave of investment into the country’s infrastructure. Thrybergh and now Kirkthorpe, and the other river hydro schemes that we hope will follow, offer baseload electricity and deliver clean energy highly efficiently into the local grid. They are very long-term sources of clean electricity. With the right tariff structure and finance in place, we can build more and larger hydro projects across the North of England, making it a true Northern Powerhouse.

“We wish to build our next hydro scheme at the Brotherton Weir on the River Aire near Knottingley and close to the landmark Ferrybridge coal-fired power station; getting it built is however dependent on our efforts to secure grant or low-cost finance for the £6.5m project.”

For further information, including photos
Barn Energy ( / twitter @Barn_Energy and @kirkthorpehydro)
Mark Simon, Chief Executive – 07968 164171 /
Paul Taylor, Taylor Keogh Communications – 020 3170 8466 /

Wakefield Council Press Office – 01924 305294 /

Notes to Editors
1. The 500kW Kirkthorpe facility will uses a single Kaplan axial turbine to extract power from the River Calder. The stable “baseload” electricity that is generated represents the lowest cost over the long-term (expect to be still generating in 2115) and underpins the security of supply of electricity in the UK. It is the longest-term source of renewable electricity, and the efficiency of the turbines means it produces a higher energy output per kW of capacity than solar PV or wind technology.

2. Low head hydropower at weirs is the only hydropower available for the majority of English and Welsh communities, specifically in industrial areas where it is embedded in the grid, resulting in almost no inefficiencies through transmission losses. With over 29,000 weirs in England and Wales there is huge potential to use this technology to meet growing energy demand and the need for additional forms of renewable energy generation.

3. Founded by three experienced renewable energy entrepreneurs, Barn Energy is a British company that develops low head hydro projects in England and Wales.

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