In 2015 we installed a micro hydroelectricity scheme powered by our own water. It was a major physical undertaking largely using our own labour. This involved digging out a small boggy depression in the hill 60m above Aswanley to create a “millpond” which we then dammed.
The 860m of 225mm pipe from dam to turbine had to be largely manhandled in 13.5m lengths on a precipitous slope and then welded together at the bottom of the trench before infilling. At the foot of the hill we built a slate roof turbine shed to house the 13kw Hydrolite turgo turbine.
The annual 40,000kw output from our micro hydroelectricity scheme is fed directly into the National Grid to earn the farm welcome extra income.
From the planning application to completion took 18 months. We cut the projected costs for the scheme from £120,000 to £80,000 by using our own labour, machinery and local contractors – Eoin Harrold who leased the heavy plant, B&G Beverley who managed the concrete shuttering and stonemason Hector Shand.
Critically the millpond is already returning to a natural state as a wildlife habitat and looks as if it has always been there. Likewise, the turbine shed, slated and faced in local stone looks as if it was built by Victorian masons.