20 tonne water power installation for new Durham city development

Archimedes screw will provide power for Durham riverside complex - a UK-first in green power

Keith Taylor The Archimedes screw is lowered into place
The Archimedes screw is lowered into place

Installation began today of a 20-tonne piece of kit which will see a North East city site on course for a UK first in green power.

An Archimedean screw will harvest energy from the River Wear to drive a 100kw generator capable of supplying 75% of the total energy requirement of the new Freeman’s Reach development in Durham City.

It will be the UK’s first city centre development incorporating a hydro power generator.

The screw was being installed yesterday as part of a co-ordinated operation between the Freeman’s Reach development team and Durham County Council.

The new turbine will continue the legacy of hydro-power generation at Freeman’s Reach, which dates back more than 800 years to the medieval Bishop’s Mill near the site.

Following its installation, the Archimedean screw will undergo a programme of commissioning works before it begins generating power in the autumn.

Measuring 13-metres long, the screw was designed and manufactured by water treatment and power specialists, Spaans Babcock Ltd,

The screw will also improve the ecology of the River Wear as its design incorporates as an improved fish pass, which allows fish and elvers to travel upstream more easily to access the upper reaches of the river.

The on-site hydro-turbine has been designed to generate renewable energy 24 hours a day, enabling Freeman’s Reach to be awarded an A Rated Energy Performance Certificate and BREEAM Excellent status.

BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings,. Throughout the centuries a variety of buildings have benefited from the energy created by the River Wear including the site’s former ice rink, which was powered by a 1930s turbine.

The new hydro-turbine is set to become a visitor attraction in its own right, as is the Energy Centre, which will feature a public art installation charting the history of energy generation on the site.

Earlier this year, an Archimedean screw was winched into position at the National Trust’s Cragside property in Northumberland to provide hydro-power to what was Lord Armstrong’s home.

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

It will become the new home of National Savings & Investment and Her Majesty’s Passport Office and will open up this part of the riverside to local people and visitors for the first time in generations.

With improved visitor amenities, particularly for those arriving by coach, Freeman’s Reach will offer daytime and evening café/restaurant facilities as well as featuring a new tree lined Riverside Walk.

Neil McMillan, director of Carillion Developments, said: “We are pleased to have been able to continue a long tradition of energy generation at Freeman 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, they will 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.”

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

“It is testament to what can be achieved when the development team engage positively with stakeholders to design a solution that works for all parties.”

Neil Foster, Durham County Council cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “This is an exciting and innovative new addition to the environmental footprint for Durham City and I have every confidence it will also prove to be a popular and unique visitor attraction.”


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