Sheep have provided a lucrative industry for generations of Welsh farmers – and given the countryside a distinctive look.
But alongside his sheep and cattle, landowner Alan Williams now has another stream of income from the water on his land.
Alan bought a small hydroelectric power installation three years ago after a visit from a national park representative.
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It cost him twenty thousand pounds (or about $32,300).
“We financed that ourselves, so we thought, well, we’d take a risk on it and that’s what we did and that’s what we done and after two and a half years we had our money back.”
The water flows across a grid to remove the silt and into a holding tank. It then runs through a pipe under a field to the generator at the bottom of the slope, producing around 11 kilowatts of power.
As well as providing electricity for his home and farm, Alan now earns about 7,000 pounds (or about $11,300) a year by selling the extra power to the government.
“Through the lambing time, we’ve got lights down on in the shed, you know got it on all night there so that’s saving us electric there, we haven’t got to pay out for that, so it is a winner for us all round on farming really.”
Alan farms near the village of Llangattock, which has received grant money as part of a competition to find the greenest community in Britain.
The project has funded research into six more micro-hydro schemes in the area, which together will generate around 113 kilowatts of energy, enough to power 56 homes.
Alan William’s system has attracted visitors from as far afield as Greece and Peru.
“People would think it’s going to take a lot of trees cutting down and ditches being dug, but as you can see down through here, there’s no trees been cut down.”
With a welcome source of extra income, Alan is now one of the few Welsh farmers who’s pleased when it rains.
Bottom line: One Welsh sheep and cattle farm found a new stream of income by harnessing the water on his land with a hydroelectric power generator and he’s now advising other landowners how to earn extra income this way.