Kirkthorpe Hydroelectric Plant, Wakefield

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Kirkthorpe Hydropower will be the largest hydro scheme in Yorkshire. The £5.3m hydropower scheme, built on the River Calder at Kirkthorpe, will use the flow of the River Calder to power a single 500kW axial turbine to generate around 2.3million units of carbon-free electricity per year, equivalent to the consumption of 800 households. It will run 24/7, 10-11 months of the year, for at least the next 100 years. Salmon, eels and other migratory fish will be able to pass the hydro scheme’s weir safely, protected by a large custom-designed inlet screen.

The high water table and 9m depth of the cofferdam resulted in a maximum frame load of 570kN/m. The use of Supershaft Plus meant that the loads could be supported using proprietary equipment, particularly for the bottom frame where the shorter duration would make the use of structural steel uneconomical.

Early collaboration between Eric Wright’s construction manager and Mabey's engineering team allowed the frame and propping to be positioned and sequenced to avoid disrupting the construction of the complex in-situ concrete structure.

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Mabey was invited by Eric Wright to the initial tender meeting for the complex Kirkthorpe Hydroelectric scheme. The early involvement allowed Mabey to work with Eric Wright and consultant engineers PaSCo Consultants to evaluate the temporary works requirements which, due to the complex shape, meant various support methods would be required. Eric Wright adopted a tie back system to the curved sections and top level support.

Mabey was tasked with the lower frame propping of the 9m deep central section of the cofferdam, which would encompass the turbine area of the project and the complex surrounding structure. The load on the lower frames in the deepest section of the cofferdam was 570kN/m, which is high for proprietary shoring equipment. Mabey selected Supershaft Plus which at the time of the project was the strongest proprietary brace on the market, which allowed maximum spacing of the cross struts. Using proprietary equipment meant a quicker installation and removal time than on-site fabrication of frames with structural steel, which would have also been more expensive.

Mabey regional engineering manager Jon Seddon said: “Early involvement with Eric Wright ensured we only used proprietary equipment in the areas that could offer a real benefit to the project in terms of both cost and programme”.

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