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Monitoring hydroelectric power feasibility

Company:

Founded in 2004 by scientists and engineers from the public sector run Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), UK-based Wallingford HydroSolutions provides companies with consultancy and assessment services on the environment, water resources, wind and water energy, flood risk, as well as hydrometric, topographic and geomorphological field services.

Issue:

Hydropower is the most widely used of all renewable energy sources. It captures the force of falling or flowing water to generate electricity. It is rapidly becoming a cheap, flexible and viable alternative to fossil fuels. The environmentally-friendlier hydroelectrical power has become key to a sustainable low-carbon future, supplying around 20% of the world’s electricity.

There are various ways to harnessing the power of running water - through dams, pumped storage, run-of-the-river, tidal power and underground power stations. However before settling on a hydro system, a river or water area must first be extensively researched and assessed for its suitability for generating power.

Wallingford HydroSolutions was asked to undertake a hydropower feasibility study on various river areas in Scotland. Part of the test involved monitoring the river’s water levels - a critical component in calculating its hydropower viability. The company was looking to install water level sensors across a network of rivers, collating data and sending the results back to a central base station on a daily basis.

Wallingford HydroSolutions approached Wood & Douglas to provide a low cost but resilient radio product to transfer this information in challenging outdoor conditions.

Solution:

Taking into consideration the remote location of these water sensors and the area’s minimal communication infrastructure, Wood & Douglas recommended 25 Ultima GSM Radio Modems. This quad-band GSM/GPRS module connected to the water level sensors and relayed the data over-the-air, once a day, via the mobile phone network.

With its ruggerdised IP67-certified waterproof enclosure and robust connector for attaching to the sensor, the Ultima was well suited to withstand the vagaries of a river bank environment but still maintaining high performance levels.

Its low power output and long battery life means the radio did not need constant maintenance; the ‘fit and forget’ design features a sleep mode to extend the battery life of an unattended unit for up to a year. The Ultima automatically ‘wakes-up’ to send transmissions; should the power run low, SMS alerts can be sent to up to 10 designated mobile phone numbers so action can be taken.

  • Low cost radio solution for monitoring applications
  • IP67-certified and designed to work in extreme environments
  • Reliable and resilient enough to transmit data on a daily basis
  • Low maintenance required with long battery life

It is our aim to never promise what we cannot deliver.