Hydroelectric power returns to England’s Cragside estate

The world’s first home to be lit by hydroelectricity is once again being powered by water following the installation of a new Archimedes screw turbine at England’s Cragside estate.

Lord William Armstrong first begin using water from the estate’s five lakes to generate power in late 1870s, bringing Cragside’s story full-circle, according to the National Trust, which has curated the site since 1977.

“Lord Armstrong was an exceptional man with an ingenious mind, and the prospect of bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st Century is a dream come true,” property manager Andrew Sawyer said. “Hydroelectricity is the world’s most widely used form of renewable energy, so we are looking forward to sharing this very special part of its heritage.”

Water for the new Archimedes screw will be drawn from Tumbleton Lake, which is the lowest of the estate’s reservoirs. The water will turn a17-meter long galvanized turbine that will produce about 12 kW of energy, or, the National Trust said, enough to power all of Cragside’s 350 light bulbs over the course of a year.

The organization said it chose an Archimedes screw design not only for its ability to generate power at a low speed, but for its ability to allow for safe fish passage.

“The best thing about the screw is that it’s visible, and we hope this will add to people’s understanding of why Cragside is so special,” said Sarah Pemberton, National Trust Head of Conservation for Yorkshire and the North East. “It not only makes economic sense, but adds so much depth to the story this special house has to tell.”

The Cragside project is part of the National Trust’s initiative to power each of its 43 historic properties with renewable energy.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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