The Queen has taken delivery of two giant hydroelectric turbines that will help meet the Royal Family’s attempts to power Windsor Castle using economic sustainable energy.
The 40-tonne Archimedes’ screws were put in place on Wednesday by crane at Romney Weir on the River Thames, just a few miles from her favourite royal residence.
The turbines are made in a factory in Holland at a cost £700,000. It is estimated that, together with other equipment, they will cost a further £1 million to install. It is estimated the turbines will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 790,000 kilos per year.
The turbines, which have the appearance of a screw, were developed by the Ancient Greek mathematician and engineer Archimedes of Syracuse.
He invented the screw to raise low-lying water so it could irrigate land at the top of a slope, but its modern namesake is turned by falling water from the weir. It is connected to a gearbox and generator to produce electricity.
In 2009 plans to “power” the castle by renewable energy were halted but now Royal advisers believe the time is right embrace renewable energy.
The Archimedes Screw turbines, supplied by Southeast Power Engineering Ltd, will be ready to operate from November. The company is working in partnership with the Environment Agency, which is leasing the weir.
A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: “I can confirm that the royal household now has an agreement in place to purchase the energy generated by the hydro scheme, implemented by SEPEL.
“We have been looking at this for a number of years. It is one of a number of green initiatives introduced at royal residences by the Queen and the Duke Edinburgh.”
Palace sources said on Thursday that it was not clear whether they will be able to power the castle entirely by green electricity immediately. It could happen by next year, they added.
Community groups and developers were invited by the Environment Agency to set up hydropower schemes on River Thames weirs ranged down the river through Oxfordshire and Berkshire.
In Berkshire, the agency teamed up with Windsor and Maidenhead council to investigate schemes at Marlow, Boveney and Boulters weirs, while work is already under way to generate electricity at Osney and Goring weirs in Oxfordshire.
Weirs were originally built to control water levels for navigation and flood risk purposes but can now take advantage of new technology to provide energy, the EA said.
Hydro-power works by using flowing water to drive turbines to generate electricity.
Barry Russell, the agency’s hydropower project leader, said “This is a great opportunity for developers and community groups to get involved in generating clean, green electricity in an environmentally sustainable way.
“Weirs are an untapped source of energy and the Environment Agency is keen to ensure hydropower fulfils its potential as a small but useful renewable energy source, whilst protecting the environment.”
David Dechambeau, the director of EPIEL, has said he was “over the moon” to have the Queen as a customer.
He first approached the Royal Household in 2007 about developing hydroelectric power for the Castle.
Officials were “very keen” on the idea, he added before taking four years to get approval.
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