Power to the People!

Our A Level Physics class made a visit to the Ruswarp Hydro ‘Eureka!’ power plant and learnt some amazing facts.
The plant generates electricity from the river water, falling down the weir through a giant spinning ‘Archimedes Screw’. You remember Archimedes? He was the ancient Greek genius who ran through the streets naked shouting ‘Eureka!’ (which is Greek for ‘this bath is too hot…’).
But that’s not what’s amazing. We learnt that the project was set up by local volunteers who wanted to make a positive difference to our area’s carbon footprint. That means they wanted to find ways to get us the electricity we need without burning stuff and putting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They raised the money to build the generator by selling shares to local people and some environmental based loans (which they are well on the way to being paying back). The polution-free electricity generated is fed into the national grid, enough to power over 48 houses each year.
They didn’t just have physics and engineering problems to solve though. Would the massive turbine disrupt fish on their way up the river to spawn? By building a ‘fish ladder’ (a slower moving weir) next to the plant, the fish have reported that their journeys up and down the river are now much easier.
It was a great real-life application of physics and conservation, right here in Whitby, that benefits us all (and the fish).
Mr Instone
alevelphysics