Tiny steps towards greener energy

Elsewhere we have mentioned that we have a micro-hydro generation system on the farm. It’s not huge, but it makes a small contribution to the growing proportion of UK energy which comes from renewable sources.

This morning I found a site which tells us exactly what proportion of the UK demand we satisfy. Gridwatch.co.uk isn’t a compelling site, but it does have real-time, hard data on where our power comes from at any given time.

This is the picture from today – a sunny day in February 2019:

So right now, the UK is consuming around 40GW of electricity, of which 674MW is coming from Hydro.

And our contribution?

This is the real-time reading from us: ok, it’s the middle of winter, and not much rain recently. Maximum is around 8kW.

Which means we’re creating about 1/10,000 th of the UK hydro energy. We also have solar PV, which is producing 3.3kW right now (middle of the day, sunny, February), which is a bit extra.

This might give you an idea of how much hydro and PV it takes to make a difference to the bigger picture. Like I said – tiny steps.

Sun on a winter’s day

One of the best bits of working here is that when the sun shines, we can enjoy the outside. This is especially welcome in the middle of winter.

Take today for example.

It’s the middle of February, but it’s sunny and warm (well, one-jumper-warm) and a good day for having coffee outside.

It keeps surprising us that taking a break outside is great for giving the brain a rest, looking at the view, and getting fresh ideas.

The summer hydro dip

Monday morning, and another walk to work.

Today was a day for getting the readings for our hydro-electric scheme. We send the readings to the government (to make sure we’re not being naughty and extracting too much water) and more importantly, to the electric company, so we can get paid for the power we push into the grid.

Here are the readings for the last 18 months:

As you can see, there is a large drop in the summer, when there’s not much water in the stream. Unlike mega-scale hydro schemes, we don’t have a dam to hold back water to create a constant flow. Whatever water comes down the stream, we’re allowed to take a percentage for generation. Hence the seasonal variation, and the random-looking peaks and troughs: sometimes it rains, sometimes it doesn’t.

So whilst we’re not exactly keeping all the lights on in the rest of the UK, we are at least providing enough for 3-4 other homes.