Water clever way to create energy

HANDING OVER: Ian Beaumont, project manager, with Michael Gallon site director at Freeman's Reach in Durham.
HANDING OVER: Ian Beaumont, project manager, with Michael Gallon site director at Freeman's Reach in Durham.
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A NEW way of generating power is on stream in a pioneering city centre.

Hydro-electricity is now being generated through the River Wear in the centre of Durham after the plant at the new Freeman’s Reach office and leisure development was turned on.

The scheme has become the first city centre site in the UK to incorporate such a generator, which harvests energy from the water to drive a 100kw motor, with a 13 metre, 20-tonne Archimedean screw at the heart of the equipment.

The power is fed into the National Grid, with enough made to equal 75 per cent of the total energy needed for the development.

The turbine has been designed to generate renewable energy 24 hours a day, while the screw also improves the ecology of the river as it features a fish pass, created with the Environment Agency, which helps fish and elvers, young eels, to travel upstream more easily.

A fish counter has also been installed, which can also differentiate species and send the data to the Environment Agency.

Ian Beaumont, project director, said: “We are immensely proud our development in Durham City is making a sustainable contribution to the UK’s electricity requirements.

“The opportunity to harness the power of the River Wear has been a hallmark of the site for hundreds of years and, by applying innovative technology, the river is enabling us to achieve the highest standards of sustainability.”

Once open, Freeman’s Reach will become the new home of National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and Her Majesty’s Passport Office, with phase one to accommodate around 400 NS&I employees.

Phase two, the new Passport Office, is scheduled for completion in 2016 and will secure 950 jobs.

It will also include a café and restaurants and a new tree-lined riverside walk is also planned.

Freeman’s Reach is being built by a consortium of Carillion Developments, Arlington Real Estate and Richardsons Capital LLP