Changing Places tells stories about greening Britain - intiatives by individuals, local communities, government or multi-national corporations that contribute to a sustainable future.
Friday 14th October
Looking back down the leat at Old Walls Hydro
In the first of a new series, Dylan Winter explores the renewed interest in small-scale hydropower schemes as a form of renewable energy in helping with emissions reductions targets.
Dylan asks if they are economically viable and to what scale? In the building of such schemes, what is their environmental impact? Plus how “green” is this form of energy production?
With Britain's history of using the power of water through mills, leats and weirs, some hydropower schemes are able to benefit from the past.
On Dartmoor, the Fursdon family at Old Walls Hydro dug a new leat and increased the size of an old piped system which had been in use since the 1930s. Now when the river is in full spate in the winter they can generate almost 90 kilowatts of electricity. This is sufficient to run their farm and provide enough electricity for three small villages.
In the West Country, the South Somerset Hydropower Group is helping local owners bring mills back to life. Their hopes are that eventually the combined amount of electricity that is generated will amount to some 600,000kWh of electricity a year – saving 260 tonnes of carbon emissions.