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Paul Kent: Taff Bargoed Community Hydro Scheme

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The Taff Bargoed community Hydro Scheme was opened by Lesley Griffiths AM, the cabinet secretary for environment and rural affairs on 25th October.

The scheme was designed to use the energy of the Taff Bargoed River as it descends a cascade in Parc Taff Bargoed near Treharris, the electricity generated being sold and the profits from the scheme to be used for the long term management of the park.

The Taff Bargoed is the principal tributary of the river Taff on its Eastern side and rises just South of the A465 near Dowlais top and joins the Taff at Quakers Yard.

During the industrial era this dynamic upland river was significantly polluted and nearly a mile of it’s lower reaches were buried under the waste tips of Deep Navigation Colliery through which it passed in a brick culvert.

Following the closure of the mines in the valley, Parc Taff Bargoed was created during which the tips of Deep Navigation were landscaped and the river brought out of the culvert to run in a new channel some 30 metres higher, this and the building of the Taff Merthyr Colliery site reed beds have resulted in water quality improvments, wildlife has returned and the area is now a great asset to the surrounding communities.

One of the primary features of the re-landscaping was the creation of a 30 Metre high concrete cascade at the South end of the park and it was this that provided the site for a hydro power plant.

Following initial desktop studies in 2010 it became apparent that the river could support a 100Kw hydro scheme and that this would be finacially viable, the next 4 years were spent detailing consents, design, financial modeling but most importantly and time consuming obtaining leases from Merthyr Tydfil Council.

Work on site finally started in August 2015 with the construction of the intake at the top of the cascade, this work had to be completed before mid October due to prohibitons on engineering works in the river during fish migration, Through the winter of 2015/16 work continued with the final testing occuring in early May 2016, since then the plant has operated well with few teething problems.

If you wish to see the plant in operation please contact Friends of Taff Bargoed Park through their facebook page where the entire construction process is also documented.