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HYDRO POWER ON THE RIVER GRETA BY KESWICK

The River Greta which runs through Keswick had 27 water-powered mills operating in the 19th and early 20th centuries. We believed that some of the structures used to generate the power could be restored and reused to supply water to at least one modern efficient generator that could supply more than 50 kW (average) to the grid.  The Keswick Electric Light Company, founded in 1890, supplied 30kW power from its site at Brigham Forge.  This was using inefficient technology by modern standards but was the first commercial supplier of electricity in the north-west of England.

In 2008 a feasibility study was conducted on SusKes' behalf by MannPower Consultants, funded by the LDNPA Sustainable Development Fund.  It identified a potential site at Brigham Forge where a useful generating capacity could be achieved using a small fraction of the average flow in the Greta.  This was pursued further to investigate the likely cost and potential generating capacity of this site.  Environmental considerations were explored with the Environment Agency and other relevant organisations to ensure that the impact of such a scheme on the River would not be detrimental to the populations of fish and other organisms.

Unfortunately, the Great Flood of November 2009 resulted in almost total destruction of the old weir at Brigham on which the project depended. After considering ways of reconstructing the weir and estimating their costs we reached the conclusion that the project was no longer economically viable and therefore it was abandoned. The SusKes Hydro Group had put in many hours of work over two years and were deeply saddened by this outcome!

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This is the weir

that held back the river

that filled the leat

that powered the waterwheel

that generated the first electricity in NW England

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This is what's left of the weir

that was destroyed by the flood

that no longer holds back the river

that was going to fill the leat

that would have powered the Archimedean screw

that would have generated carbon-free electricity for Keswick