National Tree Week 1 – 8 March 2015 ~ ‘ Do you love Trees?’

The theme for National Tree Week 2015 is ‘Do you love trees?’

The launch of National Tree Week being sponsored by ESB takes place in Castletown House in Co Kildare on 1st March where the Tree Council will be giving away over 2,000 trees and 15,000 during the week thanks to Coillte.  National Tree Week is an annual week long fun festival about trees organised by The Tree Council of Ireland.  In celebration of National Tree Week individuals, families, schools and local communities are encouraged to participate in and support events taking place around the country during the week.

National Tree Week 2015 - Do you love trees?

By doing something as simple as planting a tree, everyone can play their part in making a difference to our efforts to live more sustainably, bringing about huge  benefits, many of which will have long term impact in times of climate uncertainty.

Despite great advances in the past 100 years, Ireland remains one of the least wooded countries in Europe with only 11% of our land planted with trees compared to the European average of 40%.  Ireland has agreed a target to increase our forest cover to 17% by 2035.  This initiative will provide new jobs, build our forestry industry and help improve our environment.

On a global level, trees play a significant role in mitigating against climate change by soaking up carbon emissions and in the sustainable wood resource they provide.  Trees also improve air quality, providing us with clean air to breathe, and reduce the effects of flash flooding and soil erosion.  They give shade to make streets and buildings cooler in summer and improve the energy efficiency of buildings by providing shelter and reducing heat loss.  Without trees, life on earth would be intolerable.

National Tree Week 2015 - Do you love trees?

Get involved!

It’s easy to get involved as an individual or as a group.  The Tree Council of Ireland invites you to organise one or more events for the week to celebrate trees. As well as tree planting ceremonies, the range of events can include forest and woodland walks, nature trails, workshops, woodturning displays, talks, tree hugging, tree climbing etc. –  the choice is yours!

National Tree Week 2015 - Do you love trees?

Ferns Tidy Towns Group planting a copse of trees

What can you do to celebrate National Tree Week?

  • Check out the National Tree Week events programme and take part in an event near you.
  • Celebrate National Tree Week in your school by planting a tree or in the classroom by drawing pictures or making leaf prints or bark rubbings of trees, read or write poems or stories about trees, learn how to measure the height and spread of a tree, produce a class drama about trees.
  • Encourage your local residents association, tidy towns group, youth club, sports club or other local organisation to get their members involved in a tree planting or tree maintenance project (eg. clean-up a local woodland) in your area.
  • Volunteer in a local community tree-planting event. You’ll meet new people and make a difference in your community.
  • Organise a walk or trail to showcase and tell the stores of any large, unusual or historic trees in your community.
  • Commemorate an event of significance in your community by planting a tree and organise a community celebration or get together to mark the occasion.
  • Celebrate the week in a personal way by planting a tree yourself in your own garden.
  • Take some time to read a book about trees or find our more about their characteristics, their uses, folklore etc. Learn to identify trees in your neighbourhood.
  • Enjoy the outdoors. Visit a local forest or park or take a nature walk and enjoy observing and being in the company of trees.
  • Those in the business community could sponsor a community tree project.
National Tree Week 2015 - Do you love trees?

Woodland area of native trees at Scoil Naomh Maodhóg, Ferns

Even the smallest garden can accommodate a tree!

Just because your garden is small, don’t think that you can’t have trees. One of the advantages of planting trees is that there is a species to fit every location, regardless of size. Many people with small gardens only have space for one tree so choosing the right one is important. When planting in small enclosed spaces, it is advisable to plant trees that have a small crown spread. Eventual height is an important factor too. Even small ornamental trees may, over time, reach a height of 6-7m or more. If you only have room for one tree ideally look for one with more than one feature or season of interest such as coloured bark or fruit or autumn colour following on from flowers.

Some Native Tree Species to consider for Small Gardens.

Strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo) – Slow growing evergreen with shredding brown bark and dark green, leathery leaves. Clusters of pinkish white, pitcher-shaped flowers and red strawberry-like fruits are borne together in late autumn and winter. Height 5m.

Spindle (Euonymus europaeus) – Although inconspicuous for much of the year, this small tree is very showy in autumn and early winter when the leaves turn blazing scarlet and masses of rose-red capsules split open to reveal orange seeds. Height 4m.

Silver Birch (Betula pendula) – Distinctive silvery-white, peeling bark that becomes marked with black, rugged cracks as it gets older. In spring, yellow-brown male catkins appear and in late autumn the diamond-shaped, bright green foliage turns yellow before falling. Height 12m. Betula pendula ‘Youngii’ is a weeping form that develops a mushroom-headed habit with branches reaching to the ground.

Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) – Choose the fastigiate form. Leaves turn deep, fiery red and yellow in autumn. Sprays of white flowers cover the tree in late spring, followed by bunches of red berries in autumn. Height 8m.

Yew (Taxas baccata) – Choose the columnar or fastigiate form. Slow growing coniferous tree forming a dense, compact column. Height 3m.


Recycling saves trees!

School Recycling Saves Trees Trees are essential to our world and offer a wide range of benefits to our environment so for the week that’s in it we should also remember that recycling saves trees! Each ton of recycled paper    can save 17 trees, 380 gallons of oil, three cubic yards of landfill space, 4000 kilowatts of energy, and 7000 gallons of water. This represents a 64% energy savings, a 58% water savings, and 60 pounds less of air pollution.


Wexford County Council National Tree Week Primary School Competition:

Wexford County Council have organised a competition for all primary schools in Co. Wexford to celebrate National Tree Week 2015 . The winning entry will win €200 worth of trees for their school and €100 for their own garden.

All you have to do is write a description of your favorite tree or planted area of trees in your garden, school or local area. Entries must not exceed 1 A4 page and it can include drawings or a photo of the tree if you like.  Don’t forget to write on the back your name, school and contact details.

Send your entry to Cliona Connolly, Environment Section, County Hall, Carricklawn, Wexford.

Closing date for receipt of all entries is Friday 13th March 2015.

What will you do to celebrate National Tree Week? Maybe you will attend one of the many events organised by the Tree Council of Ireland , help your local community group to plant some trees, plant a tree in your own garden or just go for a walk in the local woodland and admire the beauty of the many species of trees around you. Whatever you decide trees are essential and are a huge benefit to our environment.


Chooseday’s Choice! ~ Wood Fuel or Fossil Fuel?

Where does YOUR  energy go?

Fossil fuels are derivatives of plant and animal fossils that are million of years old. These are primarily formed from the remains of the decayed plants and animals. The three fuel sources coal, natural gas and oil help to meet the energy and electricity demands of today’s world.  Fossil fuels are non-renewable energy resources. Their supply is limited so they will eventually run out. Fossil fuels do not renew themselves, while fuels such as wood can be renewed endlessly.

Pollution is a major disadvantage that is formed due to fossil fuels as they release carbon dioxide when they burn, which adds to the greenhouse effect and increases global warming.  Coal and oil release sulphor  dioxide gas when they burn, which causes breathing problems for living creatures and contributes to acid rain.


You Choose!

You Choose - Wood Fuel or Fossil Fuel

You Choose – Wood Fuel or Fossil Fuel

Wood Fuel:

Using wood fuel instead of peat, coal and gas to heat our homes is a sustainable choice, and makes a positive contribution to the environment. Wood is ‘CO2 neutral’, the amount of CO2 wood releases during burning is equal to that which is absorbed during growth. In contrast, burning fossil fuels releases the global warming gas carbon dioxide, as well as other damaging pollutants. Wood fuel also takes just 5-20 years to grow, whereas peat and coal were formed over hundreds of thousands of years.

WFQA – Wood Fuel Quality Assurance:

wfqaThe Wood Fuel Quality Assurance (WFQA) scheme provides a simple but reliable way for consumers to purchase quality wood fuels that are accurately described, meet the supplier’s stated product specifications, and are produced in compliance with EUTR (EU Timber Regulation) ensuring sustainably produced woodfuels.


Modern, highly efficient stoves and boilers make wood fuel a practical and sustainable option for today’s lifestyle!




Why Mini or Micro scale Hydro?

Small-scale hydro is one of the most long term cost-effective and reliable energy technologies to be considered for providing clean electricity generation. Hydropower is the nation’s most available, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy source requiring only the power of moving water from rivers and streams.
Weir on the river Camowen, Omagh

Weir on the river Camowen, Omagh

Small scale hydropower systems capture the energy in flowing water and converts it to usable energy. Although the potential for small hydro-electric systems depends on the availablity of suitable water flow, where the resource exists it can provide cheap clean reliable electricity. A well designed small hydropower system can blend with its surroundings and have minimal negative environmental impacts.
 Benefits of small scale hydropower:
  • A high conversion efficiency (70 – 90%), by far the best of all energy technologies.
  • A high capacity factor (typically >50%), compared with <10% for solar and around 30% for wind.
  • A high level of predictability, varying with annual rainfall patterns.
  • Slow rate of change; the output power varies only gradually from day to day (not from minute to minute).
  • A good correlation with demand i.e. output is maximum in Winter.
  • Hydro produces a continuous supply of electrical energy in comparison to other small-scale renewable technologies. 24 hour generation i.e. works at night.
  • It is a long-lasting and robust technology; systems can readily be engineered to last for 50 years or more.
  • Well-designed schemes are also environmentally benign. Small hydro is in most cases “run-of-river”;  in other words any impoundment is quite small, often an existing weir, and little or no water stored.
  • Small hydro schemes have minimum visual impact on their surrounding environment
  • A climate-friendly energy source with  no direct CO 2 emissions from hydro projects.
Therefore run-of-river installations do not have the same kinds of adverse effect on the local environment as large-scale hydro, which involves a substantial dam and a more fundamental alteration to the downstream flow pattern.

Why micro and small scale hydro?

Why micro and small scale hydro?

Hydropower is a flexible technology, proven, improved and refined over many years, yet its site-specific features make it highly innovatory in application, which makes use of a wide range of available resources – micro, small or large, storage or run-of-river, and  including tidal, canals and even water treatment works. It is still one of the most inexpensive ways to generate power, playing an important role in our electricity system stability.
If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site, would like to refurbish or replace a water wheel or a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use we can help. Just contact us here and we will answer all queries and help you every step of the way with your proposed project.

A look back at 2014 – the power of water!

The blog has been quite of late so now its time to get back into the swing of things.  And what better way than to look back on some of the most memorable posts of 2014.  While looking back through the posts over the past few days it has stuck  me just how busy we were in the last year!

We have had to spend a huge percentage of the year traveling and working in the UK due to the lack of support mechanisms and action on microgeneration here in Ireland. In December ESBCS withdrew their export tariff scheme to new microgeneration customers which now means there is no financial incentive in this country for microgeneration as ESBCS were the only supplier offering such a tariff. Contrast this to the ROCs system in NI and the REFIT scheme in Britain, both these schemes pay for actual generation not just what is exported, there is a smaller top-up payment for export. On the brighter side we got the opportunity to travel through the most scenic countryside to visit and work on beautiful rivers and old mills.

Working in the great outdoors

Working in the great outdoors

Penllergare Valley Woods.

Almost a year ago to the day we visited Penllergare Valley Woods located on the northern fringe of Swansea. It was once a famous gentry estate and home to John Dillwyn Llewelyn, the notable 19-century horticulturalist, philanthropist and pioneering photographer. The development of the hydropower scheme in Penllergare Valley Woods will generate sufficient power to meet the needs of the sites new visitor centre and excess sold to the National Grid, raising an expected £10,000 per year for the trust. The Archimedean Screw with a length of 11m and a capacity of 2880 m3/h is situated next to the waterfall at Penllergare Valley Woods.

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

Archimedean Screw with ell pass running along side

 Osney Lock.

Osney Lock Hydro was the first community-owned hydro scheme to be built on the Thames. There was extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support the project would not have been able to go ahead. Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire.  On Tuesday 25th March at midday the dreams of the local residents came to life when a 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed at Osney Lock.


Osney lock hydro installation

 Mapledurham Watermill

The watermill is the last working corn and grist watermill on the River Thames and is still producing high-quality stone-ground flour today.  An Archimedean Screw hydro turbine was designed and installed in 2011 to replace the original turbine that had fallen into disrepair.   The 7.27 m Open Compact Archimedean Screw has a capacity of 5,000l/s and a predicted output of 99.95kW. It is estimated that it will save 221 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Over the course of a year, the screw will produce approximately 500,000kWh of renewable electricity which is being bought by Marks and Spencer via the national grid. The electricity generated is sufficient to power one of its stores.

Archimedean Screw

Archimedean Screw

The mill produces stone-ground flour using a waterwheel. Wholemeal and white flour, bran, semolina and Millers Mix, a blended combination bran and semolina, are all produced at the mill.  When the sale of the electricity has covered the cost of the turbine, the profits will go towards renovating the mill and its outbuildings to how it was 200 years ago. The new water wheel is the exact structural copy of the existing water wheel and is made out of oak which was sourced from the Mapledurham Estate.

New water wheel at Mapledurham

 Cragside House

Cragside was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. On the 9th April, a century and a half  after the first hydropower installation at Cragside House a new hydropower turbine arrived onsite. A 21st century, 17m long Archimedean Screw rated at 12kW and weighing several tonnes was craned into position at the southern end of Tumbleton lake and  will produce enough energy to re-light the house just like Lord Armstrong did.


17m long Archimedean Screw insitu

17m long Archimedean Screw insitu


The project consists of two 3.6m diameter Archimedes Screw hydropower  turbines. The turbines were designed to rotate at a speed of 28rpm, which produce a maximum power output of 150kW.  The estimated annual power output is 670,000kWh enough electricity to power over 150 homes and gives an estimated annual CO2 saving of 288 tonnes. A small percentage of the power generated is used to power the owners home and the remainder is sold to the National Grid. The fish pass and hydropower scheme was offically opened in 2009.

Wordless Wednesday ~ the power of water!

 Sowton Weir

Sowton Mill stands on the  River Teign in Devon and has been using hydro power for over 400 years, initially to mill corn and then, from the 1950s, to generate electricity.  In the 1980s a 16kW crossflow turbine was installed which was the U.K.s smallest electricity contributor to the National Grid. To improve the power generation and aid fish migration a decision was made to install the fish-friendly Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. Sowton hydropower scheme was developed by a private client to provide a renewable source of electricity to the property on site with all excess power sold to the National Grid.

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

 Tours and Shows

One of the most exciting memories of 2014 was visiting the IFAT show in Munich and continuing on to visit some Archimedes Screw installations in Munich, Czech Republic and The Netherlands. IFAT 2014 is the world´s leading exhibition of innovation solutions for environmental technology. Climate change, rising raw material prices, an increasing number of mega-cities and advancing industrialization in emerging countries  boost the demand for products and services that address environmental and climate challenges. With growing pressures on European countries to reverse years of environmental damage and to find more integrated pollution control techniques, the potential is limitless.


Frank at IFAT 2014

Frank at IFAT 2014

There are many more projects both here and in the UK at various stages of build which I hope to blog about throughout 2015. The projects mentioned are a taste of what community groups, home owners and businesses have achieved in their desire to harness the power of the river to generate green electricity. On our trips around Ireland with the Mills and Millers of Ireland we met several mill owners and enthusiasts who, like us are promoting the benefits of hydropower and encourage and assist in the preservation of old mills which are part of our Industrial, architectural landscape heritage.

We will continue to fight for microgeneration incentives because after all every person or household in the country that pays an electricity bill also pays a PSO. So  it is a little unfair that the ordinary man in the street who pays the bulk of this PSO does not benefit from it in the form of any incentive that would help him to install his own microgeneration.




Fish-friendly hydropower at Sowton Weir

Sowton Mill stands on the  River Teign in Devon and has been using hydro power for over 400 years, initially to mill corn and then, from the 1950s, to generate electricity.  In the 1980s a 16kW crossflow turbine was installed which was the U.K.s smallest electricity contributor to the National Grid. To improve the power generation and aid fish migration a decision was made to install the fish-friendly Archimedean Screw hydro turbine. Sowton hydropower scheme was developed by a private client to provide a renewable source of electricity to the property on site with all excess power sold to the National Grid.

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydro turbine

95kW Archimedean Screw Hydropower turbine

Mannpower Consulting Ltd.,designed the Open Compact Archimedean Screw for this particular site which was manufactured by Landustrie in Holland.  An Open Compact is a self-supporting U-shaped steel construction minimising necessary civil work on site. The generator unit is an integral part of the construction, easily accessible via a weatherproof, hinged generator cover. The length and diameter of an Archimedean Screw will be dictated by the parameters of the particular site and are finished in the colour of your choice. All Archimedean Screws are manufactured as bespoke installations. Rated at 95kW it is expected to save in excess of 165 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (C02) annually. The predicted annual output is 368,000kWh per year.

Fish-friendly hydropower at Sowton Weir

Closed compact Archimedean Screw

Improvements were also made to the fish pass at the nearby Weir.  These measures will make it easier for fish to move upstream and will add to the understanding of their migration patterns. The Archimedes  hydropower installation has improved the fisheries ecology of the river Teign by allowing more juvenile salmon and sea trout reach the sea. The improved fish pass at the weir means more salmon and sea trout can reach spawning grounds on the upper Teign. An automatic fish counter was also installed to count the fish numbers and species using the pass. This provides invaluable information for the Environment Agency and the Teign fishing association.

Sowton Weir

Sowton Weir

Once again we see the Ancient power of Archimedes being used for hydropower generation because if it’s fish-friendly credentials. The Archimedean Screw turbine provides a fish-friendly alternative to conventional turbines, ideally suited to low-head (1m-10m) sites, and sites with fish protection issues. Extensive fish passage tests have conclusively demonstrated that the large water chambers and slow rotation of the Archimedean Screw allow fish of all sizes, and debris, safe passage through the turbine. As a result, the Environment Agency has agreed that no screening is required.

If you are the owner of an old mill site or a potential hydro site or are a community group interested in developing a hydro project for community use please contact us here.