Hydro-electric power on the Tyne

Communities all along the Tyne and its tributaries have decided to investigate the potential for the development of many low head water turbines along the course of the river. This is a brilliant example of collaborative community action to bring forward the low- or no-carbon economy that is essential for the 21st century.

Besides generating reliable renewable power these turbines will bring much needed income to the communities for many further developments.

Power and income are not the whole story either. The series of weirs will assist flood control, constrain bank erosion, create recreational possibilities on the river in new locations and further develop fishery welfare. Everybody wins.

Even that is not all. The Haydon Bridge Development Trust (I am one of the Vice Chairs) has brought the option of pumped storage to the debate where it has been greeted with much interest. This is a means of storing power when demand is low or production high (as with intermittent sources such as sun, wind or tides). When there is surplus power water is pumped to lakes high on hillsides or moors and when the demand exceeds supply the water is released through turbines back to the river below, generating power as it goes. The most well known example in the UK is Dinorwig.

The future for the economy in this area is stunning if the right policies are followed. We can grow the food and energy that we need for national food and energy security. We can harvest and store renewable power.

What a pity that the conventional parties are scornful of food and energy security and lukewarm at best about renewable energy.

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