Feasibility assessment of a small-scale hydropower scheme at Browsholme Hall, Lancashire, UK

Salmon, Noel and Folkard, Andrew and Ilic, Suzana (2020) Feasibility assessment of a small-scale hydropower scheme at Browsholme Hall, Lancashire, UK. Masters thesis, Lancaster University.

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The threat of catastrophic, irreversible climate change is forcing society to change its approach towards energy production. Switching to renewable energy sources is vital to cutting global carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. Small-scale hydropower is a source of renewable energy that is highly efficient, cheap and assumed to have minimal environmental impacts. Small-scale hydropower technologies can utilise flow conditions that would make larger-scale hydropower installations non-viable, such as low flow or head, to generate power. Moreover, the relatively small size of these hydropower schemes enables them to be constructed in remote and difficult-to-reach areas, providing energy security to isolated communities. In this thesis, a small-scale hydropower feasibility assessment was conducted at a rural site, Browsholme Hall, in Lancashire, UK. Browsholme Hall is a Grade I listed building which is operated by its owners as a tourist attraction and a venue for weddings and other events. Feasibility was assessed by conducting hydrological, topographic and ecological surveys. On-site waterbody discharge rates were measured over several months, whilst a longterm rainfall model was also devised to estimate discharge. Ecological surveys were conducted to ascertain whether a proposed hydropower scheme would likely cause harm to protected species on-site. The results of the feasibility assessment deemed the site unsuitable for small scale hydropower generation. This was primarily caused by the intermittency of significant potential power generation which was due to a combination of low head and flow. From this it is inferred that either head or flow is required to be significant for small-scale hydropower to be viable. Therefore, the UK may not be as feasible for small-scale hydropower generation as previously assumed, and small-scale hydropower may be more appropriate in regions with lower energy demands. Conducting feasibility assessments are important in determining the overall viability of small-scale hydropower in the UK. Ideally, feasibility assessments should be utilised in future to devise a system to accurately and remotely assess feasibility without the requirement of extensive physical measurements.

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Thesis (Masters)
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01 Jul 2020 09:30
Last Modified:
11 Jan 2024 00:04