The Queen’s Windsor Castle home will be partly powered by the UK’s largest Archimedes screw turbine installed into a weir yesterday.
The £1.7 million project is the first of its kind on a weir managed by the Environment Agency.
Electricity generated by the giant 40-tonne turbine, and another already installed at Romney Weir on the River Thames, will meet half the needs of the Queen’s Berkshire home when up and running in the new year.
Stephen Naylor, the agency’s hydropower project manager, said: “This is the first one for us, we’re going to learn a lot from it.
“The government set the targets for renewable energy – 15 per cent by 2020 – this is a small contribution towards that.”
Southeast Power Engineering Ltd (Sepel) is the developer of the hydropower project at the weir on the edge of Windsor.
A fish pass will be built as part of the scheme to allow more than 12 species, to migrate up this stretch of river – some for the first time in more than 200 years. Another will be created for endangered eels to use.
The scheme will also provide power to other homes and buildings on the Windsor Castle estate with Sepel selling surplus electricity to the National Grid for use in homes in Windsor.
The Queen is said to be aware of the project and her deputy treasurer Mike Stevens said: “The royal household is constantly looking at new ways of saving and supplying energy so as to remain as environmentally friendly as possible well into the future.
“Accordingly, the household was very keen to support this project. Once completed, it is hoped that the scheme will supply half of Windsor Castle’s electricity.”
The hydropower scheme is being built by Jackson Civil Engineering for Sepel and is expected to cut annual carbon dioxide emissions by 790,000 kilos.