Eric Wright Civil Engineering Highly Commended on the Kirkthorpe Hydro Scheme

Eric Wright Civil Engineering is celebrating a highly commended award in the Project up to £5m for delivery of the Kirkthorpe Hydro-Electric Scheme for Yorkshire Hydropower.

The Kirkthorpe Hydro-Electric scheme on the River Calder was the largest of its type in England, (shortly surpassed by 750kW Knottingley project, in construction by EWCE for the same client). It generates 500kW of clean energy in perpetuity, providing enough power for over 800 households and runs 24-7 for over 11 months of the year.

Completely privately funded, the project was successfully commissioned in December 2016 after a 12 month construction programme. The scheme had an immovable deadline for generating electricity of 31/12/16 imposed by the regulator and if this wasn’t achieved the scheme wouldn’t be financially viable.

EWCE were appointed by Barn Energy (Yorkshire Hydropower), without a competitive tender process, testament to the client’s confidence in EWCE further to the completion of a previous smaller scheme in Yorkshire. EWCE worked with the client and designers to value engineer the permanent works and ensure their buildability to streamline the programme and provide confidence that the required completion date was achieved. Notably EWCE suggested that a sheet-piled solution be progressed in-lieu of a contiguous piled structure and suggested major changes to the reinforcing steel enabling pre-fabrication, simplifying construction.

Despite working in the Calder through the extremely wet winter of 2016, and the site suffering numerous inundations, EWCE achieved every programme milestone from installation of the Czech turbine in Summer 2016 to final connection to the National Grid in December 2016.

The existing historic listed weir, one of the largest in Yorkshire, had pre-existing defects, and suffered further damage during the contract due to high water flows. As a result the client incorporated significant strengthening works to the weir at a late stage to guarantee water supplies entering the turbine and protect the structure. EWCE safely incorporated this complex in river works into the programme without affecting the completion date.

Significant structural steel work was installed including large inlet and outlet screens which both protected the plant and safeguarded fish from the new structure. The inlet screen incorporated a bespoke, large automated screen cleaner, one of the largest of its kind in the country. The structure included a Larinier fish and bristle eel passes that allow Atlantic salmon, sea-trout, and eels to access their historic spawning grounds in the upper reach of the Calder and the existing coarse fish to access new habitats. This has significant consequences for biodiversity securing the future of fish eaters such as otters, herons and kingfishers that depend on sustainable fish stocks.

Utilising a local supply chain over £0.80p of every £1 invested in Kirkthorpe Hydro-Electric Power was spent in the local economy.

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