Hydropower

A waterfall at Stickle Ghyll, Cumbria

Harnessing the power of water can be traced back to 200 BC. Hydropower has not only shaped our industrial past it also has a key role to play in building a greener future.

Listen to our podcast and meet the innovators of days gone by whose ingenuity is still helping us reduce our carbon footprint by making the places in our care more sustainable. We've also got lots of tips you can try at home to save water and live a more sustainable lifestyle.

We aim to produce 50 per cent of the energy we use from renewable sources by 2021, and hydropower is helping us to achieve this.

  • Hydropower already generates a total of 299,382 kilowatt hours for 10 of the places in our care.
  • A further 10 National Trust places sell the energy generated by their hydropower systems to the National Grid, bringing the total up to 4,132,823 kilowatt hours of energy produced.
  • The money raised helps us continue vital conservation work and look after these special landscapes for future generations.  
Listen to our podcast on hydropower

The podcast was made possible thanks to the support of BMW i, the brand behind the state-of-the-art BMW i3. As our partner, BMW i is not only allowing us to expand our network of electric vehicle charging points it is also helping us achieve our renewable energy ambitions by investing in groundbreaking projects at National Trust places.

Cragside became Britain's first hydro-powered home in 1878

Britain's first smart home 

This episode explores the exciting capabilities of hydropower, an age-old technology that first used water to power mills and machinery hundreds of years ago. We shed light on how forward-thinking inventor Lord William Armstrong made his Northumberland-home Cragside into Britain's first hydro-powered home in 1878. Discover how an upgrade of the original hydro system is powering the estate into the future.

Episode 1: Britain's first smart home

Play now

Hydro power at Hafod Y Llan

Did you know?

The energy generated by hydropower systems is measured in KWhs (kilowatt hours). A kilowatt (kw) is 1,000 watts, so a 1KWh hydro scheme produces 1,000kws in an hour, which is enough to power 66 LED light bulbs. But our scheme at Hafod y Llan is so powerful that it creates enough energy in an hour to power 6,666 light bulbs.

Hydropower at the places we care for
Doing your bit

A large-scale hydropower project is still out of reach for most of us, so we've come up with some other ways that you can channel the power of water. 

Our work with BMW i 

BMW i is committed to creating a more sustainable future and makes use of many of the renewable energy technologies that we do. While hydropower is used to power many of the historic buildings in our care, it also plays an important role in the modern production of carbon fibre for its electric cars. 

BMW i3s made at the manufacturer's Leipzig plant take 70 per cent less water and 50 per cent less energy to build than a normal car. The car creates zero driving emissions and is up to 85 per cent recyclable.

Our partnership with BMW i means we can invest even more in renewable energy projects, and make travel to the places we care for more sustainable by expanding our network of electric vehicle charging points.