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You are here: Home Page > Council and Democracy > Council News > Archived News > April 2010 > AncientGreece to Power Bedford

Ancient Greece to Help Power Modern Bedford

Bedford Borough Council is pursuing a pioneering project, inspired by technology from Ancient Greece, to produce clean energy from the River Great Ouse.

The major scheme will see a state-of-the-art hydro power plant installed on the river at the Boat Slide Weir Bridge which could generate up to 190,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson, said: “Pursuing ambitious projects such as this demonstrates our commitment to protect the environment and to save taxpayers’ money. We are investigating whether the electricity generated can supply Borough Hall, cutting the Council’s energy bill.  

“The river is one of the Borough’s greatest assets, and this move to harness its power without damaging its ecology makes sense in every respect.

“As well as being a fantastic project in its own right, this bold scheme stands alongside other measures such as our efforts as part of the 10:10 initiative and the Mayor’s Climate Change Fund as a statement of intent that we will do all we can to protect the local and wider environment.”

The technology is called an Archimedes Screw Device, which was originally developed in Ancient Greece. Essentially it involves a large screw shaped device which water flows through, making it rotate which then turns a turbine to produce electricity. The Environment Agency describes this technology as ‘fish friendly’ as it allows fish to pass safely through it and also maintains the ecology of the river.

Bedford Borough Council will be one of the first areas in Britain to use this technology for a modern hydro-power plant. It has been successfully implemented in Dartmoor National Park, where it is generating £35,000 worth of electricity every year

The Environment Agency claims applications for permits to build small scale hydropower schemes have increased dramatically in the last five years. Whilst, small scale renewable energy schemes built on public sector land could provide up to 3 gigawatts of power and save three million tonnes of CO2 a year.

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