Better small hydropower solutions


Hydroworks CEO Rik Hothersall with a turbine under manufacture.

Great global opportunities are emerging for green energy generation, with approximately 10,000 to 15,000 MW of new hydro generation being commissioned every year.

The most exciting area of the market is the smaller (5MW to 30 MW) hydro projects. And a local company is gradually gaining recognition for its better small-scale hydro solutions.

Originally from the United Kingdom, Rik Hothersall landed in New Zealand with 30 years of design experience in water pumps and electric power turbines, up to 100MW, under his belt. He formed Hydroworks in 2001 to design water turbines and ancillary equipment for the hydroelectricity generation market, most suited to projects below 30MW capacity.

Rik has developed a range of efficient Kaplan, Pelton and Francis turbines, which can make a significant difference to the economics of a hydropower station. Although Hydroworks manufactures a variety of hydroelectric machine types, their Pelton wheels are a specialty and are expected to be in great demand in the near future.

Hydroworks has so far completed 22 projects, which it is leveraging to compete in bids of ever-increasing value. Long-term customers include Trustpower, one of the largest electricity generators and retailers in New Zealand.

The strategy for the next stage of the business is two-pronged: Developing an export-sized product for projects in locations such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Papua New Guinea; and concentrating on upgrade projects where Hydroworks turbines can be utilised to get better performance out of existing power generation facilities.

This small company is respected for its technical excellence. And it is steadily making its mark in a demanding environment where competitive turbine performance is all-important.