Countryfile switches on giant electric waterwheel
This section of the page features an image gallery, so if you're using a screen reader you may wish to jump to the main content.
We welcomed BBC’s Countryfile to a historic spot in South Wales to take Europe’s largest electricity generating waterwheel for a spin.
Having been out of action for several months during refurbishment, the 500-year-old steel waterwheel at Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall is generating renewable electricity once again as we look to achieve our green energy goals by 2020.
The wheel is powered by an overflow of water from the River Dulais at the Aberdulais Falls and was switched on by Countryfile’s newest presenter Shauna Lowry during a day of filming, to the delight of our surprised half-term visitors.
'It’s interesting for the public to learn about green energy and the National Trust is setting a fantastic example,' said Shauna.
Shauna flicks the switch
The presenter said she felt 'very privileged' to be switching on the waterwheel and had fun with our team on the day.
'Some of the guys said I could help get the oil in and get in there with the mechanics so that’s fun,' she said.
'I’ve learned a lot at Aberdulais today, all about tin plating and how people worked and how hard it really was in those days. The history of the site is fascinating and the waterfalls around it are beautiful, so it’s a great place to come,' she added.
Bringing history to life
The vast waterwheel, which weighs in at 16,000 killograms and measures more than eight metres across, has been driving various industries since 1580 and will soon be generating all the energy needed to provide heat and electricity for the site, including a tea-room, visitor centre, cinema and education centre.
A second hidden hydro at Aberdulais, called ‘Edvard’, will generate around 400,000kwh a year which is enough electricity to power around 120 homes.
Leigh Freeman, manager of Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, said: 'It’s fantastic for me to see the reaction of people when they see the wheel for the first time; they’re just blown away by the sheer scale of it, and the kids really love how the water splashes over the side.'
Generating home grown energy
Any power not used on site will be sold via the grid to the 100 per cent renewable electricity supplier Good Energy, with money raised ploughed back into our conservation projects, such as archaeological works.
We’re considering opportunities to install renewable technology where it is appropriate and in the right location and scale for the landscape.
Energy users can support our plans by making the switch to renewable electricity with Good Energy and mentioning the National Trust.