Windsor Castle Ready To Go Green With Hydro Power

After over twenty years of planning and delays, Windsor Castle is finally to be powered by hydroelectric energy in a £1.7 million scheme that will also provide electricity for hundreds of homes.

Due to funding problems the project failed to get off the ground before and it wasn’t until December 2011 that two massive forty tonne water turbines were installed at Romney Weir on the Thames in Berkshire, making it the largest hydroelectric project in the south-east of England. With the subsequent installation of an 11,000 volt cable to join the system to the castle, the project was recently completed.

The turbines, which cost £700,000 to manufacture in Holland and over £1 million to install, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 790,000 kilos each year. The turbines will generate enough electricity to supply half of the castle estate. The system works on the same principles as the Archimedes Screw which was first developed as a water pump in Ancient Greece.

Although exact figures have not been revealed, it is believed that the hydroelectric scheme will save a very significant amount and a special deal has been reached with an energy company to buy electricity that is generated by the turbines.

The Queen already has a hydroelectric plant in Balmoral but the Windsor Castle project is the largest step taken so far by the Royal Family to reduce bills and make a positive impact on lessening the carbon footprint. As the section of the Thames where the turbines are installed is owned by the Environment Agency, the Queen has supported the financing of the project by purchasing electricity from developer SEPEL, who has also received a green subsidy from the Government in addition to payments from electricity wholesalers.

David Dechambeau, project manager for SEPEL, said: “People have been trying for twenty years to make the hydro scheme happen and hadn’t managed it. I said, ‘I’ll get it done in a year’.
“They are quietly excited by this project at Buckingham Palace. I have met with people from the Palace every month and they came out here recently. We will power the castle and with some to spare for local businesses and homes.”

He explained that two million kilowatts of electricity will be produced each year, which is sufficient to power five hundred homes. Any surplus energy will be supplied to the National Grid.

The turbines will now undergo a series of over one thousand tests to ensure that they are able to function correctly in all conditions. Mr Dechambeau said that the timescale for full operation of the system is unclear, but he is optimistic that they were be operational at night within a month, allowing further testing to take place during the daytime.

Colin McDonald writes on behalf of providers of business electricity, Haven Power.

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