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A conversation I had over a dinner table, I was boring my friend talking about Narrowboats again,he said why can't we capture the energy of the water running through our locks, this sparked an hour of conversation with a guy with no interest in our waterways imagine what it could dowith people actually interested in the subject , for instance energy produced from a 10/20 lock flight, I have no knowledge of how, but sure it could be sorted out over a couple of pints what do you think?

Asked by: doug  | 5.22pm, Tuesday 8 January

WW says:

It's an attractive idea but I suspect that the amount of power produced, compared with the cost of the machinery and cabling required, would make it uneconomic.
All the same, I bet the Norwegians would find a way.

Graham Booth  | 11.17AM, Wednesday 9 January

Interestingly, water flowing down bywashes has been considered for electric generation in the past. Some river locks- like Linton Lock on the Ouse- have Archimedes screw generators, which can work well.
In the past, tunnel lighting on the BCN was powered by hydroelectric systems!
It would be easy to imagine waterways, like the Llangollen Canal, which have a definite flow of water (to feed the reservoirs at Hurleston) to generator power. However, there would be a couple of major hurdles- one is the historic (and often listed) status of locks, the second is that the head (difference between upper and lower water levels) is not always that great. You need a combination of mass of water flowing and height. There would be issues in some places with distribution (and possibly storage) of electricity generated at each lock but not insurmountable.
I could easily see an argument for installing isolated hydroelectric micro generation schemes at a lock to be able to provide a set of local moorings (or houses)with power- probably with a low cost (iron-air, for example) battery bank to cope with fluctuations in output.
So, I think that many people have the same thoughts as you, but probably for the foreseeable future, such generation schemes would be most likely on river navigations and bigger waterways like the A&C. Would be very good though if more did appear!

Mark Langley  | 9.40AM, Friday 11 January

Since responding to this question, I see that Holme Lock on the River Trent has had a hydroelectric plant for two years and it is now proposed to install one in the old lock chamber at Newark. Details of the latest application can be seen on https://publicaccess.newark-sherwooddc.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=neighbourComments&keyVal=PJM3H2LBH0W00.
It seems that some boats have been drawn unexpectedly by the pull of the intake at Holme. However, it shows that this technology is used on river, although I still think that there would be insufficient flow to make it feasible on a canal.

Graham Booth  | 10.59AM, Friday 25 January

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