Dudbridge Hydro Scheme Complete

Dudbridge Hydro Report

Extracts from a detailed press release issued by Ken Burgin

The hydro-electricity generating scheme at Dudbridge is complete and ready to generate energy and income. The project has been accomplished by The Cotswold Canals Trust and the Stroud Valleys Canal Company working together in a joint undertaking.

Ancient industrial technology updated

Water gathered by Stroud’s five valleys drove watermills to create wealth in the area for hundreds of years.

The Dudbridge Hydro Scheme will once again see value gathered from the valleys.

In a typical year, water flowing down the canal will pass through a cross flow turbine to generate over 100 Megawatt hours of electricity producing an annual income of around £20,000 to support future maintenance of the restored canal.

Times past

The Stroudwater Canal operated as a cargo carrying navigation until 1941 when traffic of all kinds effectively ceased. It was abandoned by Act of Parliament in 1954. Concrete dams were then placed across the locks at Dudbridge to form part of a flood relief scheme for Stroud. That scheme diverted Slad Brook and Painswick Stream into the canal bed to prevent their waters flowing into the River Frome in the base of the valley.

Present day

Today’s restoration of the canal means excess water from the streams must still be diverted around the locks. It was recognised that substantial engineering works would be required to create large weirs and a bypass channel. Those requirements provided the opportunity for a hydro scheme to be built in parallel with the main flood bypass system.

Early concepts

The original idea to explore a hydro scheme at Dudbridge came about in 2004. Studies carried out by a local green energy company, Renewables First, showed that the 5 metre difference in levels created by Dudbridge and Foundry Lock made such a scheme viable.

Research & planning

It was recognised that the hydro scheme would need to be integrated with the canal restoration project.

The civil engineering works managed by Stroud District Council commenced in 2011.

In the meantime research, design and fund raising continued. The hydro scheme cost was estimated at just over £300,000.

Funding

The main grants secured for the project were £100,000 from the Gloucestershire Environmental Trust, funded under the Landfill Communities Fund by Cory Environmental Ltd.

A further grant of £45,000 came from The Summerfield Charitable Trust. Without these substantial grants the project would not have been possible.

Key to the photos
  1. The eel pass, fish pass and bywash
  2. Volunteer briefing on delivery day
  3. Turbine is craned into the chamber
  4. The chamber roof is secured  

Click here to view Mike Gallagher's full set of Dudbridge Delivery Day photographs

Cost saving solutions

In the prevailing economic climate, raising funds has not been easy. Costs were reduced through the kind donation of a trash screen which had previously been used at Sowton Mill in Devon.

Valuable volunters

Further cost reductions have been achieved through a far greater volunteer input than had previously been anticipated. Volunteers have provided overall project management and a great deal of design and physical work on the site.

A small team of volunteers has been formed to perform periodic maintenance. Their main task will be to clear debris away from the intake or fish pass.

On-going information

An electronic display, visible from Dudbridge Road Bridge shows how much power is being, and has been, generated.

Open Days planned

One or more public open days are expected to take place around the end of the summer when guided tours of the facility will be offered.

Click here to read the full story on the Dudbridge Hydro page