Aberdulais Falls hydro – Always take the weather with you

waterfallAs well as the heat pump at Plas newydd I am currently overseeing the refurbishment of the hydropower scheme at Aberdulais. Work was carried out during last year on the waterwheel (see earlier blogs), and now it is the turn of the turbine itself.

Aberdulais Falls themselves are stunning particularly at this time of year, and the site  has utilised the power of water for over a century.

Just a small amount of water over the weir

Just a small amount of water over the weir

Our problem, unlike the North Wales hydro at Hafod Y Llan, is that the appalling weather we have had since before Christmas has hampered our contractors te-bar from de-watering the header tank in order that renovations can be made to the sluice gates, trash cleaning systems; as well as some good old fashioned shovelling to remove silt build up. We seemed to be at a stalemate until the weather cleared and river levels lowered.

With this in mind I last Friday took the rain with me from North to South Wales as contractor, myself and property staff had a meeting to discuss what work could be undertaken whilst we were waiting for sunshine to crack the pavements?

Looks like a Saturn 5 rocket to me

Looks like a Saturn 5 rocket to me

It was agreed that we would organise the lifting out of “Edvard” the 238kw turbine in order that an assessment could be made (did it have a big hole in the side of it for one) as to its state of repair. This was always the “unknown” element as the turbine had last run some 18 months ago and due to a hydraulic failure we had closed down its operation until funding could be secured to do a refurbishment of both the wheel and turbine, as well as improving controls and monitoring.

It was therefore with some trepidation that property staff watched Xylem the turbine engineers lift Edvard from his resting place on Monday of this week.

Did Edvard swallow someone?

Did Edvard swallow someone?

What did we find ? Lots of silt and general debris build up; and more interestingly a single boot which was jammed between the turbine blades – Georgina at the property asked “Did Edvard swallow someone?”

Apart from this, things do not look too bad:Turbine flat side compressThe bearings and main seals all look good; the generator is working well; wear on washers had caused the hydraulic failure and this resulted in the blade pitch adjustment being off by 5 degrees causing uneven wear on the brass wear ring. Following a good strip down and service the blade pitch adjustment was all fixed; gaskets and seals renewed. All ready to set Edvard back in place.

Before we do that though, we are doing some CCTV camera inspection work tomorrow to make sure no issues with the pipe.


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