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

Mills & Millers of Ireland Summer Event ~ Antrim 23 & 24 June 2012.

The Society for the Preservation of Ancient and Traditional Irish Mills

The Society of Mills and Millers of Ireland was launched in 2001 to encourage and assist in the preservation and appreciation of mills as part of our industrial, architectural and landscape heritage. There are hundreds of mills and mill sites spread across the country and while many are beautifully refurbished or put to good use, there are also many others which could be restored or renovated while preserving their traditional context. The society aims to promote interest and awareness in this aspect of Ireland’s industrial heritage by building up knowledge and expertise in areas such as law, architecture, renewable energy and manufacturing and making information available through publications, lectures and events.

This years Summer event in the lovely countryside of County Antrim will include a visit to the mill at Newmills, a visit to Shane’s Castle Hydro scheme, Riverdale Mill and the ruins of a paper mill at Randalstown. Details of events below.

Meeting place

The Barn, 30 Burnside Road, Dunadry, Co Antrim BT41 2HZ (Bert & Evleen). Directions can be found here.


Shane’s Castle Archimedes Screw Installation

Day 1 Saturday 23 June

10.30am Registration – Tea / Coffee & Scones
11.00am Programme for today – Bert Kennedy
11.30am Visit to Mill at Newmills – owned by Barbara & Des – short talk by Des on the history of Mill and their story so far.

01.00pm Lunch at Clotworthy House in Antrim Castle Gardens including short Tour, talk on local history and visit to the gardens.

02.30pm Visit to Shanes Castle, Randalstown – short talk by Shane O’Neill (son of Lord O’Neill, on Archimedes Screw installation (supplied by MMOI Members – Frank / Mary Gethings – Eco Evolution)
03.30pm Travel 20 minutes to Riverdale Mill

04.30pm Visit to Riverdale Mill, Aghalee (covered Wheel) – tour and short talk by owner David Gilbert, on his story so far…..

Tea / Coffee & Scones
05.30pm Return to Hotel – Dunsilly Hotel

07.30pm Dinner – All (not included in Fee)

Clotworthy House in Antrim Castle Gardens

We have negotiated discount at the Dunsilly Hotel as follows: Single Room, Bed & Breakfast – £59.00 (normal price £79.00) / Twin Room, Bed & Breakfast – £69.00 (normal price £89.00). Please mention MMOI / speak to Laura.

Dunsilly Hotel, 20 Dunsilly Road, Antrim, BT41 2JH. Tel: 0044 (0) 28 9446 2929 Email: info@dunsillyhotel.com

Please do not hesitate to contact me on 07789082089, or email me – evelyn.kennedy@gmail.com, if you require any assistance, or further information.

Historical Paper Mill Randallstown

Day 2 Sunday 24 June 2012

11.00am Clotworthy House – Tea / Coffee & Scones (€5p/p)
12.30am Visit to ruins of an historical Paper Mill at Randalstown, (originally 3 waterwheels) – owned by Lee and Naomi – currently in the process of installing an Archimedes Screw – short talk on their story so far…

02.00pm End of Event

Should anyone require lunch, we have 3 hotels within 5 mins from the Barn – Templeton / Dunadry / Hilton – all serve Carvery (alternatives also available) between 12.00-2.00pm.

Fee for Saturday €25.00 / £23 Lunch & morning & afternoon refreshments. Please make your own overnight arrangements and let us know if you plan to stay for Sunday morning.

Download Booking Form Here

Old waterwheel before refurbishment


Micro-generation export and Refit tariff updates

Micro-generation covers small scale generators where customers can generate their own electricity and export the surplus back to the grid. Microgeneration technologies include small scale wind turbines, hydro turbines and solar photovoltaic systems.

Evance R9000 5kW Wind Turbine

Electric Ireland have extended their micro-generation payment of (9 cent / kWh) by a further year to 31st December 2012. This will be the second successive year that the expiry date has been extended and it reinforces Electric Ireland’s commitment to its support of customers who install a domestic micro-generator.

ESB Networks continue to offer a support package up until 29th February 2012, comprising of a free installation of import / export meter and payment of a support payment of (10 cent / kWh) which applies to the first 3,000kWh exported annually. This payment will last for a period of 5 years and will end on the 5th anniversary of the contract start date.

The ESBN micro-generation payment (10 cent / kWh) and the free installation of import/export meters will not be extended beyond 29th February 2012.  Import/export meters will now be charged at approx €350.00.

Solar pv slates

Budget 2012 and VAT refund for Farmers

The 2012 Budget included an extension of the existing VAT Refund Order for flat-rate farmers to include a refund on the purchase of wind turbines.

The existing VAT refund order, which provides for the refund of VAT paid by un-registered farmers on the construction of farm buildings, fencing, drainage and reclamation of farm land, has been amended to provide that such farmers may claim a refund on wind turbines supplied and installed after  1st January 2012.

Archimedean Screw Hydro Turbine ~ Shane’s Castle

REFIT – Renewable Energy Feed-In Tariff

REFIT stands for ‘Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff’ and is the primary means through which electricity from renewable sources is supported in Ireland.

The REFIT II scheme (onshore wind, small hydro and landfill gas) is open as and from 23rd March 2012 and the REFIT III (biomass technologies) scheme opened in February  2012. Both schemes are for projects built and operational between 1/1/10 and  31/12/15.


Terms and conditions for REFIT II (Onshore wind, hydro and biomass landfill gas) can be found here

The REFIT II scheme is intended to cover small and large scale onshore wind, biomass landfill gas and small hydro (?5MW.) To be eligible for REFIT II, the various requirements that will be set out in the terms and conditions must be fulfilled including proof of planning permission and grid connection -plants must be new plants neither built nor under construction on 1/1/2010.


Terms and conditions for  REFIT III (Biomass Technologies) can be found here

REFIT III is a scheme to cover 310MW of certain biomass related REFIT categories as follows:

> 50MW of AD sub technologies (AD CHP ?500 kW ; AD CHP >500 kW; AD (non CHP) ?500kW ; AD (non CHP) >500kW);

> 100MW of Biomass CHP (non AD) sub technologies (biomass CHP ?1500kW; Biomass CHP >1500kW);

> 160MW of biomass combustion and co-firing.


The REFIT II and REFIT III competitions are separate schemes with separate terms and conditons in respect of each scheme.

New clarifications may issue in due course on the new Terms and Conditions, if deemed necessary.


Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event at CAFRE’s Greenmount Campus 1st November 2011

Representatives from DARD, UFU and AFBI at the meeting to launch the Practical On-farm Renewable Energy event

Following on from its success in 2010, the “Practical On-farm Renewable Energy” event will be held once again on Tuesday 1st  November 2011 at Greenmount Campus. The event will run from 11.00am until 9.00pm in the evening.

DARD has again joined forces with the Ulster Farmers Union (UFU), and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) to provide practical information for farmers and the rural sector about the various renewable energy options available for their businesses.

There will be a series of seminars throughout the day on each of the main renewable energy technologies; wind power, biomass production and utilisation, anaerobic digestion, solar hot water, micro-hydro and heat pumps.

A second series of seminars will deal with many of issues facing those considering installing a green energy source. Topics covered will include the proposed Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), grid connection, planning, NI Renewable Obligation Certificates (NIROC’s), marketing NIROC’s as well as finance and funding options.

In addition there will be a Trade Exhibition and the opportunity to tour the renewable energy installations at Greenmount Campus.

If you are interested in exhibiting in the trade stand area please contact CAFRE at technology.admin@dardni.gov.uk or telephone 028 9442 6770. As space is limited it will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

For further details contact David Trimble at 028 9442 6682 or david.trimble@dardni.gov.uk.

As a result of feedback from attendees last year, a follow-up event will also be held at CAFRE’s Enniskillen Campus on 22 February 2012.


Seminar programme for CAFRE, 1 November 2011


Start Time Technology Seminar Speaker Meeting the Challenges Speaker
11.30 On-farm Energy Efficiency David Trimble Funding Gareth Gormley
12.00 Biomass

  • Production
  • Utilisation
  • Economics
  • RHI
  • Case study
 Alistair McCrackenLindsay EassonPeter Hutchinson

Simon Best

Grid connection Gerry Hodgkinson
12.30 Finance Trevor Finlay
13.00 Planning Permission Planning Service
13.30 Solar hot water Martin Mulholland Taxation Anne Douglas
14.00 AD 

  • Technology
  • Planning
  • Grid & PPA
  • Finance
  • Case study
  Nigel MoorePlanner

Andy McCrea

Trevor Finlay

Jim Torney

Renewable Heat Incentive Peter Hutchinson
14.30 NIROCs Michael Harris
15.00 Funding Gareth Gormley
15.30 Planning Permission Planning Service
16.00 Micro-hydro Eoin McCambridge Marketing NIROCs Jonathan Buick
16.30 Heat pumps David Trimble Grid connection Gerry Hodgkinson
17.00 Solar PV Greg Forbes Taxation Anne Douglas
17.30 Solar hot water Martin Mulholland Planning Permission Planning Service
18.00 Micro-hydro Eoin McCambridge Funding Gareth Gormley
18.30 Heat Pumps David Trimble NIROCs Michael Harris
19.00 Wind

  • Technology
  • Planning
  • Grid & PPA
  • Finance
  • Taxation
  • Case study
 Anita WattsPlannerAndy McCrea

Trevor Finlay

Anne Douglas

James Carson

RHI Peter Hutchinson

















£1m hydro-electric project set to be biggest of its kind in Europe

Eco Evolution appointed agents in Ireland for Mann Power Consulting Ltd., the Archimedean Screw hydro turbine specialists in the UK.

A £1MILLION green scheme to turn Totnes Weir into a mini power station will be the biggest hydro-electric project of its kind in Europe.

The scheme — which could be in action powering up King Edward VI Community College by the beginning of 2012 — involves installing a four metre diameter Archimedean screw turbine to fill the 20-metre long sluice at one end of the centuries old town weir.

There are already 15 similar water-powered turbines operating in the UK and another 100 across Europe.

But the Totnes turbine’s size and its 200 kilowatt output would make it the biggest in Europe so far, revealed Dave Mann, the boss of Yorkshire company Mannpower.

It would harness the power of the 13 tonnes a second of water that pours over the weir which would then be used to provide electricity for the classrooms of more than 1,800 pupils at what is one of the largest schools in Devon.

“We have calculated that it will produce as much power as the school uses,” Mr Mann explained as he outlined the project at a public meeting at the college.

A similar, but slightly smaller screw, was installed at the River Dart Country Park by Mr Mann’s company and has been powering the park successfully for the past three years.

A consortium of local investors, called the Dart Renewable Partnership, has already bought the weir from one-time Autotrader boss Malcolm Barrett for £75,000.

The deal included land next to the weir where there are proposals to build a small classroom complex which would be used as part of a KEVICC educational project involving power generation and the river environment.

Mr Mann aims to submit a planning application for the project next month and begin construction in July next year and the turbine could be producing power for the school and the national grid by early 2012.

Mannpower has already held talks with fishing organisations, owners of waterside properties, the Environment Agency and KEVICC.

Around 20 members of the public, local councillors and representatives of interested group were at a public exhibition outlining the project at KEVICC’s Ariel Centre.

The scheme also involves building a fish ladder up the weir for salmon and trout which spawn in the upper reaches of the Dart — and installing underwater cameras and fish counters to monitor the fish population.

Fish expert Peter Kibel explained that the current fish ladder was too long and too difficult for smaller fish, leaving them easy prey for seals which swim up river to take advantage of salmon and trout trapped in the weir.

It is also planned to remove the diagonal concrete ledge across the weir built as another aid for fish.

That will stop the force of the water being directed to one side of the river which has eroded the bank by 20ft in the past two decades.

This will allow water to pour over the weir in a more direct route and eventually wash away the mud island downstream at low tide.

Source:  http://www.mannpower-hydro.co.uk/news.php