ONE of the oldest pipelines feeding RWE npower renewables’ Dolgarrog Hydro Electric Power Station in North Wales is to be temporarily switched off as part of a £15million replacement programme.
The Coedty pipeline has been operating in the Conwy Valley for more than 90 years, and is now being modernised to preserve power generation and local jobs at Dolgarrog for the foreseeable future.
North Wales-based Jones Bros Civil Engineering UK won a £6.6m contract to replace and bury 1200 metres of the existing overground pipe from Coedty dam to an area called Marble Arch, above the village of Dolgarrog.
RWE npower renewables Project Director Oliver Wilson said: “The temporary turning off of the Coedty pipeline is a significant milestone for the construction project.
“We started work in November with Jones Bros undertaking comprehensive enabling works to improve road access to the existing pipeline.
“Those works are now completed meaning we’re able to begin removing the existing pipeline before installation of the new pipe starts.
“From May, new eight-metre long sections of pipe will be delivered to our construction site near Tal-y-Bont and taken by tractor to the hillside location.
“The replacement works are expected to take six months, with the new pipeline fully operational in Spring 2014.”
The Coedty (or ‘Low Head’) scheme generates a large amount of renewable electricity, with a capacity of up to 15 megawatts (MW), enough to supply the domestic needs of more than 5,000 households.
A second pipeline from the Cowlyd reservoir provides water for Dolgarrog’s “high head” scheme (17MW total output) and this will continue in operation ensuring renewable electricity generation continues from the power station throughout the replacement works.
The new Coedty pipe will be buried in an underground trench that will help to enhance the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside.
The site is on the edge of the Snowdonia National Park and Jones Bros are working closely with ecological consultants and environmentalists during the construcution.
Jones Bros project manager Ivan Rawlins said: “We are working closely with ecological consultants and environmentalists to ensure the protection of the natural beauty of the area.
“We’re also keeping the local community informed about our plans and are scheduling deliveries of the pipeline so they will be outside school drop-off and pick-up times.”
Parts of the Dolgarrog hydro system are more than 100 years old and this project is part of an ongoing programme of maintenance and refurbishment.
RWE npower renewables is also busy developing an onshore wind farm at Clocaenog Forest Wind Farm, near Ruthin. Up to 32 turbines are proposed, which could generate significant long term local jobs and investments. It will carry with it a community benefit fund of up to £480,000 per year, along with an economic development fund of up to £288,000 per year, both subject to final installed capacity.
Founded in the 1950s and employing more than 300 people, in the last two years Jones Bros has also invested more than £4m in new plant and equipment.
Last year the company featured in an independently drawn-up Sunday Telegraph list of Britain’s brightest top 1,000 businesses, and in a separate survey it was also named one of the 50 fastest growing firms in Wales.