When finished, this construction site will be the first carbon neutral white water canoe course in the world. It gets its water from the neighbouring River Tees, which is closed by a barrage at high tide, diverting water through the course.
When water levels drop four huge Archimedes screws will keep the course running. Pumping water is what this device has done for more 2000 years. But what is different here is what happens when the water is high enough.
Mark Brown, of Spaans Babcock, who have been making Archimedes screws for more than a century says, “This presented a unique opportunity to offer equipment which would run the course when they needed it to pump but generate electricity to make the course more sustainable because it can actually generate a surplus of electricity over and above the requirements to run as a course, to maintain the course on an ongoing basis.”
So, for the first time ever on the same white water course, Archimedes Screws will be used as both pumps to maintain water levels and to generate electricity.
When conditions permit, the environmentally friendly screws will use excess river water to generate more than 130kW each, making the course sustainable in energy terms.
Steve Moore of ABB Ltd (NYSE: ABB) supplied the motor generators. He says, “The idea is that the power that we generate will offset the energy that we use when we need to pump water, so when they run the white water raft course and we need to raise water from the lower level to the upper level we’ve hopefully got enough energy in the bank from the generation to make the overall scheme energy neutral.”
The course will open this spring guaranteeing conditions for canoeists, rafters and other white-water sports activities – all depending on an engineering design essentially unchanged since 200 BC.
Bottom line: More than two thousand years after its invention, the Archimedes Screw is finding a new lease of life as a renewable energy generator and helping competitors train for the 2012 London Olympic Games. For the first time, the devices are now being used as both pumps and generators on an energy neutral canoe course in the north of England.