The Waterwheel at Aberdulais

The Waterwheel at Aberdulais

Today’s waterwheel is a modern version of an old technology that has stood the test of time for more than 400 years.

Built by students and apprentices of British Steel at Port Talbot, this is the largest electricity-generating wheel in Europe, with a diameter of 8.2m. It has 72 buckets and rotates five times per minute.

Aberdulais waterwheel being built at local steel works
Aberdulais waterwheel being built at local steel works

Our waterwheel sits in the original wheel pit and a flywheel would have transmitted rotary power to the rollers of the Victorian tinplate work, where two wheels actually operated side by side.

The waterwheel at Aberdulais being built up
The waterwheel at Aberdulais being built up in original wheelpit

The techy bit

A three-stage gearbox steps up the speed to enable the shaft-mounted generator to produce up to 20kw of electricity. On an average day approximately 100-120kw of electricity is generated. We installed this in 1991, when hydro-electric schemes of this type were relatively rare. So the tradition of innovation at Aberdulais continues to this day.

Aberdulais Waterwheel Gearbox
Aberdulais Waterwheel Gearbox

Our energy-generating turbine

The waterwheel is not the whole energy-generating story. We also have our own turbine, with a generating capacity of 200kw. This supplies power to the National Grid - enough to provide electricity to most of our neighbourhood.