Harnessing the power of hydro

Lodore falls hydro power

D&R helped hotel client harness the power of hydro from iconic waterfall.  

Davidson and Robertson, the rural surveyors and consultants with offices in Cockermouth, has been supporting a hotel client on a unique hydro project. The hotel is set to reduce electricity running costs, enabling them to cut their carbon footprint further and make it an even greener tourism business.

A bid to be as sustainable as possible has driven the team at the Lodore Falls Hotel to harness the power of the iconic waterfall to provide their electricity. The initial phase of the project has now been completed and they are working on the final connections to their power supply. It comes at a time when the escalating cost of electricity are seriously affecting businesses, so the pressure is on to make the final connections as soon as possible.

The Lodore Falls Hotel was constructed in 1870, close to the dramatic waterfall from which the hotel took its name. The Lodore Falls sit behind the hotel and flows through a hydropower scheme that had been leased to a tenant supplying electricity to the national grid.

As the tenant’s lease was coming to an end, Charles Graves, Director of Lake District Hotel Limited, saw an opportunity to use the electricity for powering the hotel, cutting their energy costs and improving the environmental credentials of the business.

Davidson & Robertson has been working with the hotel group on numerous other projects, so D&R Associate Director Paul  Robinson, who has vast experience in infrastructure projects, was brought on board.

Paul helped navigate through negotiations and the complexities of the transfer including associated licenses, to the hotel. The whole process took a number of months, working closely with legal and hydro specialists and securing licenses including the Environment Agency Water Abstraction Licence, Grid Connection Agreement, Power Purchase Agreement and the Renewable Obligation Accreditation documentation.

Paul Robinson at waterfall

Charles Graves said “We are an environmentally conscious company with the aim of reducing our impact on the planet and as a result, we have been investing in technologies that can help us work as sustainably as possible for many years.

“From biomass boilers and low energy lights to refillable, eco-friendly toiletries, we look at every part  of our business. When we started looking at bringing the hydro power back in-house, it was very clear that we needed the professional help of someone who could call on a wide range of specialists, and who could handle the intricacies of the processes and paperwork.

“In Paul we found someone who gave us real confidence, who was able to keep the project moving forward and someone who was very clear sighted on our end goal. Without his support it would have been a much more protracted and frustrating process, so we are very grateful.”

Commenting on hydro technology and this unique project, Paul said “Over the last 150 years, hydroelectric schemes have revolutionised electricity generation in the UK. They are one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power and play an important role in our electricity system stability. It is a flexible, proven technology that has been refined over many years but it is a very site-specific. It means this type of technology drives innovation because it can utilise a wide range of resources from dams and rivers to tidal ranges and in this case, an iconic waterfall.

“Lake District Hotels is a family-run business, so it has been very gratifying to work with a company that has a long term holistic view of sustainable tourism, making the most of assets and staying as low carbon as possible. Charles and the team have already invested in a variety of environmentally sustainable technologies, and this hydro scheme is just the latest. Hydropower offers long-term generation and schemes have an 80-year life compared to 25 years for wind, solar PV and AD or 35 years for nuclear. If you have the raw materials to work with it is very effective.”

The UK is set to be more and more reliant on alternative forms of energy, and D&R  rural surveyors and consultants are already seeing significant growth in this area.

Paul said “More and more frequently, we are helping clients review their property assets, and looking longer term at how they can generate income whilst securing a bright future. We have expertise in renewables like solar, battery storage and wind power which can often provide real opportunities for excellent returns, and on the flip side, we also seeing more and more clients  affected by disruption caused by utility, energy and infrastructure projects beyond their control.”

For more information contact Paul Robinson at the D&R Cockermouth office on 01900 268 633.


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