Durham leads the UK with the first city centre hydro-turbine

21st-century technology applied to an ancient
method of power generation

Its University is the only one in Britain to achieve a top ten ranking position in every subject.

But Durham led the country in another way this week, as the first hydropower generator to accompany a city centre development was built in the River Wear.

An Archimedean screw – which generates electricity from the rotation of the screw as water moves through it – will supply 75% of the total energy requirement of the new Freeman’s Reach development.

The 13-metres long, 20 tonne turbine will generate energy 24 hours a day from autumn this year, and improve the ecology of the River Wear by incorporating a new fish pass.

The turbine will also form the centre of a visitor attraction telling the history of hydropower generation at Freeman’s Reach. This dates back more than 800 years to the original Bishop’s Mill and, more recently, an ice rink which was powered by a turbine built in the 1930s.

Freeman’s Reach is being developed by a consortium led by Carillion Developments, Arlington Real Estates and Richardsons Capital LLP.

Neil McMillan, Director of Carillion Developments, said: “We are pleased to have been able to continue a long tradition of energy generation at Freeman’s Reach, this 21st Century technology will harness the power of the River Wear for many years to come.

“The Archimedean screw is a really impressive sight and, coupled with the public art installation at the new Energy Centre, will surely add to Durham City’s rich variety of visitor attractions.”

Allan Cook, Managing Director of Arlington Real Estate, said: “The hydro-turbine is a great example of the innovative methods we are employing in order to achieve the highest possible standards of sustainability in this very important location.”

The new development will become the home of National Savings & Investment and Her Majesty’s Passport Office. There will also be daytime and evening café and restaurant facilities, alongside a new tree lined Riverside Walk.

Mr Cook added: “I can’t think of a better place to showcase the UK’s first hydro-powered city centre development than here in Durham.”

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