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British stately home hosts hydropower project

British renewables firm Hallidays Hydropower plans to develop a £180,000 micro hydropower scheme on the River Glyme, in the parks of world heritage site and stately home Blenheim Palace.

The scheme will generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 18 homes – almost three times as much as Blenheim Palace currently produces from solar PV – and cut CO2 emissions, the company says. 

Hydropower technology is gaining investment from landowners, businesses and communities across Britain, generating income through the Feed-in Tariff, cost savings in the face of continuing energy price rises and CO2 reductions.

The first Blenheim Palace micro hydro scheme uses an Archimedean Hydro Screw design which is expected to have a lifespan of more than 40 years. In its first 20 years, with the current scope of Feed in Tariffs, it is expected to generate an income of £12,600 per year. Based on current energy costs, the scheme will also save the estate at least £5,760 per year in electricity costs giving a net return of £18,000 or more per annum.

“Micro hydro is set to play a starring role in our drive for energy independence, efficiency and environmental performance,” said Roger File, property director at Blenheim Palace. “By the end of 2013 we will be generating 82,000 kWh of clean power each year – 60,000 kWh of that will come from this single development with Hallidays. Next, we’re installing two biomass boilers and, we hope, will be unveiling a second hydropower development with Hallidays in 2014. It’s an exciting time to be investing in renewables – it makes sense environmentally and financially.”

“This exciting partnership is another ringing endorsement of Britain’s booming micro hydro industry and our specific vision for the future. The generating potential of Britain’s rivers is immense; the Environment Agency has identified several thousand potential hydro sites that will both improve the local environment and generate electricity,” said Henry Reily-Collins, chief engineer at Hallidays Hydropower.

The parks of Blenheim Palace, the childhood home of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, were created by famous landscape architect Lancelot “Capability” Brown. 

“This first development is particularly important as we demonstrate we can install micro hydro in harmony with Capability Brown’s stunning landscape, whilst at the same time enhancing the local habitat and environment," Reily-Collins added. "As one of the companies already contributing to the growth of the UK’s green goods and services market, we think the potential for British-engineered micro hydro both at home and abroad is phenomenal.”

A “fish friendly” technology, the Archimedean Hydro Screw was selected for its low impact on the river’s ecosystem and its efficient energy production. A side stream will also be developed as part of the scheme to improve fish spawning grounds and enhance the Bladon Dam ecosystem. Based on Archimedes’ ancient screw pump design, the 10 by 1.5 m screw is turned as water flows through it, activating the turbine and harnessing up to 87 per cent of the energy from the falling water. The technology enables rivers with a fall of water of two ms or more in height, to generate significant power.

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