VIDEO: Hydropower ‘needs access to public funds’, Barn Energy insists

The government must introduce an incentive structure for hydropower and give it access to public funds, to encourage more projects to be built, developer Barn Energy has insisted.

The firm, currently developing a hydropower scheme in Kirkthorpe on the largest weir in Yorkshire, said it wants an incentive structure for the “long-term delivery of renewable energy”, and more funds to enable other projects to go ahead.

Barn Energy chief executive Mark Simon told Utility Week: “We would like recognition of the fact that these are very large civil engineering projects that have very much longer lifetimes and larger yields than other renewables like solar or wind.

“We would like an incentive structure that rewards such long-term delivery of renewable energy… but also that gives us access to public funds to get low-cost money for a long-period that will enable such projects.”

Cuts to the government feed-in-tariff scheme have made new hydropower projects difficult to finance as the government aims to cap spending on feed-in tariffs at £75 million to £100 million from 2016 to 2018/19. 

The 500Kw scheme at Kirkthorpe is expected to complete in November 2016, but Simon said that low head hydropower is often considered the “poor relation of the renewables sector”, as it is very construction intensive with expensive capital costs. However, he said, “it lasts forever”.

“Low head is important though as it is the longest term form of renewables and is highly efficient,” he added. “Ninety per cent of all power in the river will go through the turbine and be made into electricity.”