The Power of Water - Part 2

The small Yorkshire village of West Tanfield is turning water into power on its river.

In the small remote village of West Tanfield in North Yorkshire there’s something interesting going on. One of LettsSafari’s founder members has been quietly and diligently trying to figure out how to harness the increasing power of our over saturated rivers and streams with a turbine small enough to nestle into their banks, almost hidden, yet able to generate enough energy to power a nearby village. We examine this fascinating project in the 2nd part of our series on ‘The Power of Water’.

The Tanfield estate has for centuries been celebrated for its hunting and excellent fishing along a meandering 4 mile stretch of the River Ure. Today the estate is becoming known for its waterside renewable energy and eco tourism projects neighbouring its wild forest lands. And the fish are everywhere!

West Tanfield - Yorkshire by the water!

Most exciting of all they have developed a smaller river Archimedes screw system to generate energy from water. Systems like these could soon be powering any number of the faster moving rivers and streams across the UK - taking full advantage of the extra water we seem to be receiving thanks to climate change.

In the video featured at the top and in the follow-on video below you can see how this agile, small turbine works and uses the power of water in such an efficient way, hidden within the elements and sympathetic to the nature it is harnessing. It is even careful to protect the fish from falling into it.

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The river route down to the turbine is magnificent. Wild grasses roll down to the wide stretch of the river nestled within some of the most beautiful woodlands we have explored. It is left wild and natural for the wildlife to safely roam through. An old weir forks the river, with the smaller, up-river stretch leading to the water turbine.

An old weir keeps the water flowing higher - creating a fork in the river

The route along the river to the water turbine gradually becomes narrower and is wild with overgrown water scrub and trees - hiding one of the latest renewable energy technologies.

River banks bursting with biodiversity


The casing to capture the water and clean it prevents fish from being swept inside and is carefully nestled beside the river bank. The water runs at speed down the shoot and its power forces the Archimedes screw to turn at velocity - which, in turn generates energy.

A hidden shoot!
The casing for the Archimedes screw is like an aeroplane engine casing hidden in the water. It’s as if something crashed here!

The amazing thing about this technology is that it is being made small and smaller. Hopefully in not too long we can all generate energy from our small garden streams or water capture systems. You might even find the time to make your own mini turbine for your garden!

There is no doubt that extreme storms and heavy downpours are increasing. We hope that LettsSafari’s ‘Power of Water’ series will, in some small way, inspire you to make use of this extra water rather than fearing its constant return.

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