Lowna Mill goes ‘green’ and cuts carbon footprint with a giant water wheel!

Lowna  has been in the same family since as far back as 1790 as a farm, mill and a tannery. During the first World War it stopped being used as a tannery and  it reverted to its previous use as a small mill and hill farm where a large water wheel generated the electricity. In 2006 the owners decided to renovate the farmhouse at Lowna to bring it into the 21st Century!  Work was last carried out on the farmhouse in the early 60’s so as you can imagine it was in desperate need of modernisation as it was a lovely old but very cold house, and took a lot of energy to only partially heat it.

Photo Credit: Track to Lowna Mill-_geograph.org.uk_-_1522504

Track to Lowna Mill ~ Photo Credit: Gordon Hatton www.geograph.org.uk

The old water wheel was used to grind corn, drive machinery and move hides around – even generate its own electricity before the National Grid arrived in 1952. It had always been an ambition to replace the old water wheel which was in place for two hundred years, using  the old infrastructure already in place.

Site of the original waterwheel

Site of the original waterwheel with old infrastructure in place

With grant aid from the North York Moors National Park Sustainable Development Fund a new water wheel generating all the electricity for the farm, farmhouse and two cottages was installed. With an available head of 2m and a capacity of 305l/s the new water wheel was designed and installed by Mannpower Consulting Ltd specialists in hydropower turbines. With a diameter of 4400mm and a maximum output of 2.6kW the annual output is estimated to be 15,968kWh and an annual CO2 saving of 7 tonnes. Excess electricity is sold to the National grid. The water wheel generates the electricity for the two cottages and the farmhouse with excess being sold to the national grid.

Installing the waterwheel ~ Photo Credit: Mannpower Consulting Ltd

Installing the water wheel ~ Photo Credit: Mannpower Consulting Ltd

The  two barn-conversion holiday cottages had been renovated in previous years, with their heat retaining insulation and double glazing, the owners realised that the farm house had to be tackled from the bottom up! Local craftsmen were employed to carry out the work beginning with the demolition of an old extension to the rear of the dwelling. The old stone and a lot of the other existing original materials were reused within the building of the new structure.

New waterwheel installed in the site of the original waterwheel

New water wheel, generator and gearbox installed

Making the building as energy efficient as possible was a priority for the owners. Having spent years in the old structure with soaring energy bills they realised that now was the time to go as ‘green’ as they possibly could. All the new windows were double-glazed and a new plumbing system was installed using an efficient boiler and condensing water cylinder which used much smaller amounts of energy to retain and move hot water around. Dual-flushing toilets that use less water and a new electrical system and low-energy fittings were installed and energy-efficient A-rated electrical appliances were bought.

Both cottages and the farmhouse have had huge investment in energy saving insulation.  At least 60% of the lighting in the farmhouse uses low-energy bulbs and as lamps and fittings are replaced in the cottages they are being converted to low-energy alternatives. All products and services are sourced  locally and there is a policy of encouraging guests to use the local transport or walk and leave their car behind, energy efficiency, recycling and reusing is implemented wherever possible.

Farndale wild Daffodils, Kirkbymoorside ~ Photo Credit:  Rogeruk ©

Farndale wild Daffodils, Kirkbymoorside ~ Photo Credit: Rogeruk ©

Visitors are encouraged to walk and enjoy the fabulous daffodil walk at Farndale. The beautiful valley of Farndale lies at the heart of the North York Moors. Each spring, its glorious daffodils put on one of nature’s most spectacular shows – a dazzling display of colour that carpets the meadows and river banks along a seven-mile stretch of the River Dove.  The petite wild daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) is one of the native plants and is protected within the Farndale Local Nature Reserve, established in 1955 to safeguard the valley’s famous flowers.

Lowna Mill

Are you the owner of an old mill or mill site that had or still has an existing water wheel? Would you like to generate your own electricity and live a more sustainable lifestyle? Why wait any longer, contact us today and we’ll help you on the road to a ‘green’ future.


Waterwheels ~ Ancient Wheels of Power

Travelling throughout the country both here in Ireland and in the UK I see mills dotted around the countryside that are just derelict structures on a river bank and some that are working mills with water wheels generating electricity. The waterwheel is an ancient device that uses flowing or falling water to create power by means of a set of paddles or buckets mounted around a wheel. A waterwheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of paddles or buckets  arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface. Most commonly, the wheel is mounted vertically on a horizontal axle.

Derelict Mill and Waterwheel

Derelict Mill and Waterwheel

Prior uses of water wheels include milling flour in gristmills and grinding wood into pulp for paper making, but other uses include hammering wrought iron, machining, ore crushing and pounding fibre for use in the manufacture of cloth.

Bretts Sion Mills

Working Waterwheel

On occasion the old water wheel is still insitu and can be refurbished but in many cases the wheel has been removed and sadly sold for scrap metal value or taken apart to be kept as keepsakes or used as garden ornaments.

Derelict Mill and Wa

Derelict Mill and Waterwheel

If a mill has a vacant wheel pit it is possible to construct a water wheel which is aesthetically pleasing and brings the character back to the old mill.

Waterwheel Components

Waterwheel Components


Completed laser cut waterwheel

Completed laser cut waterwheel

The installed laser cut waterwheel

The installed laser cut waterwheel

Advantages of waterwheels

Waterwheels are widely regarded as being rather inefficient compared with turbines. This is not necessarily the case as studies have shown that waterwheel efficiency can be in excess of 80% for Overshot waterwheels and 75% for Breast-shot waterwheels [Muller 2004]. This in combination with highly respectable part-flow performance and lack of fine intake screening requirements can often result in very worthwhile overall energy capture so are still a viable proposition for producing electricity for domestic purposes. They are simple to control and aesthetically pleasing. Although they run relatively slowly and require a high ratio gearbox to drive a generator, for low powers – say below 5kW – and heads below 3m, they are worth considering.

Water wheels are also safe for the passage of fish.

  • Output reduction due to screen blockages is avoided since fine intake screens are not required.
  • Part-flow performance of waterwheels can be very good without requiring complex control systems.
  • Often minimal building work is required, particularly at former watermills if there is a vacant wheel pit.
  • Waterwheels have obvious aesthetic benefits over turbines and provide an excellent attraction at sites where visitors are encouraged.

If you are the owner of an old mill or indeed a mill site and would like to find out more please contact us here for further information and we will endeavour to point you in the right direction.

All photographs are copyright of Eco Evolution

Linton Lock Hydropower

A recent hydropower scheme that we commissioned  is up and running and is situated at Linton Lock on the River Ouse between York and Harrogate. The Archimedean screw is particularly suitable for locations like Linton Lock, which is on an important salmon river and popular with fishermen, as it’s an exceptionally fish-friendly method of generating power.

On route to Linton Lock

An Open Compact Archimedean Screw was designed for this project. 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.

The Weir at Linton Lock

Rated at 100 kilowatts the hydro turbine is predicted to save in excess of 226 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) annually. The predicted annual output is 525,600 kilowatt-hours. To put this in perspective, an average household uses less than 5,000 kilowatt-hours per year, so this hydro scheme has the potential to power more than 100 houses in the locality.

The Sluice Gate

Mann Power Consulting Ltd., the UK based Archimedean Screw specialists designed the equipment for the Linton Lock project and it  was manufactured by Landustrie based in Holland.

The installed Archimedean Screw

In comparison with most turbines the Archimedean hydropower screw makes use of an open construction and a low rotational speed. This results in a natural flow and there is no pressure build up in the entire installation. Furthermore extensive testing shows that due to the size of water chambers and the fact that there is no pressure difference fish will pass through unharmed. The Landy hydropower screw makes use of a specially designed inlet and outlet that make the screw absolutely fish friendly. The water outlet is designed in such a way for the water (and fish) to smoothly exit the screw without splashing. This also reduces the noise that water creates.

 All photographs copyright of  Eco Evolution.




The Old Mill Wheel

The Old Mill Wheel

The Old Mill Wheel

The Old Mill Wheel

The old mill-wheel, it turns, it turns
Throughout the livelong day,
And flings the current of the stream,
Abroad in glist’ning spray:
That old, black wheel has turn’d for years,
Beside the mossy mill,
That stands, like some old, sacred thing,
Beneath the clay-red hill.

The old mill-wheel, it turns, it turns
Like time’s unresting one,
Which day and night, and night and day,
Hath never ceased to run:
The old mill-wheel, an emblem true,
Of Time that ne’er stands still,
I love to see it turning so,
Beside the mossy mill.

The old mill-wheel, it turns, it turns,
As in my childhood’s hour;–
As when I bathed beneath its rim,
In its refreshing shower:
But they who were my comrades then,
Are sleeping on the hill,
And now, to them, forever now,
The old Mill-wheel stands still.

Author: James Avis Bartley

Old Paper Mill in Antrim that once had three waterwheels.

All photographs copyright of Eco Evolution.




Germany Sets a New Solar Power Record – 14.7 Terawatt-Hours in 6 months

Germany has set yet another impressive record for solar power consumption! As solar power usage in Germany has  increased by 50% since last year, the country’s solar resources have pulled in a  phenomenal 14.7 terawatt-hours in the first six months of 2012 alone, which  amounts to 4.5 % of Germany’s power needs.

Solarpv panels on German homes

In 2011, Germany’s photovoltaic power reached just 19 Twh for the entire year,  5 Twh shy of productions during the first six months of 2012. The ambitious  spike in solar power consumption is thanks to a boom in solar systems being  installed across the country, with more being constructed each day.

Residential Solarpv installation

In just four months, the Germans have installed an additional 73,756 solar power  systems across the German countryside, with more sprouting up each week.  Combined, the new systems have an output of 2,328 megawatts. German homes and businesses already are responsible for 1.2 million  working photovoltaic plants, which have been installed over the past few years  with no incentives other than clean energy.

Solarpv array

In 2012, Germany will have reached a total of 28 GW of solar power capacity, which far exceeds other countries of  its size. With Germany’s lead, solar energy will reign in as the third largest  source of renewable energy, and possibly push past wind power and biogas should  other countries take lead and follow suit.

 Source: Clean Technica