There’s a lot of water flowing down the Thames and when it passes over a weir you get a sense of how powerful the flow is.
The people of Osney, just west of Oxford, have a community owned project that harnesses the river’s power to supply electricity – enough to power 60 homes.
This is Osney Lock Hydro. Doesn’t look much like a power station does it?
That’s the important power generating bit – a reverse Archimedean screw.
Have you ever used a drill to make a hole? As the drill rotates, the debris from the bottom of the hole is pulled out. Imagine if you could force the debris back in, you would force the drill to rotate back the other way. That’s how the reverse Archimedean screw of the hydro works – the water pushes against the screw as it forces its way through, causing it to rotate. Rotational movement can be used to operate a generator, producing electricity.
The water emerges at the bottom and continues on its way.
The project incorporates a bypass route for fish and the building is roofed with solar panels, so that when the flow is low in the summer the site is likely to still be generating electricity.
You can find out more information on the Osney Lock Hydro website. You can also book yourself a free tour of the site.
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