Today marks another important day down at the river bank – the start of the final testing phase for the hydro.
The hydro plant was technically commissioned on 30th January but that wasn’t the end of the story for the development work. A further phase of telecommunications installation and lock-keeper training then had to begin. A ground-breaking telemetry link bringing together Environment Agency flow data, local water level data and operations data from both Osney Lock and Osney Mill hydro plants had to be put in and tested.
This is a first in the UK and will benefit both the lock-keepers and the hydro plants. It will allow the hydro plants to operate to their optimum by constantly monitoring levels and flows. The lock-keepers can view live flow data to assist them with managing safety on the navigation. The lock-keepers can also switch the hydro plants to operate at a lower water level to assist with navigation on the River Thames.
Lock-keepers both downstream at Iffley Lock and upstream at Godstow Lock will also be given access to the data, so that they can benefit as well by seeing exactly what is happening at Osney Lock and being able to manage their locks accordingly.
This final testing phase will allow the lock-keepers to work with the new system for a full two weeks with both EA managers and OLH directors on hand to listen to any issues that arise, so that they can be solved before full operation starts.
We are aware that people have been wondering about delays to the hydro starting full operation. Although things have been quiet on the river bank, behind the scenes the EA has been doing a huge amount of work to think through operating scenarios and develop a new Pulling Order for Osney Lock.
A huge thank you to the EA for their hard work and willingness to think about new solutions to make our hydro system work to the benefit of overall river management as well as local energy generation.
This new telemetry system is a first for the whole country which the EA hope to be able to roll this out to other locks on the Thames where there are hydro schemes.