Blog Post

Bradwell’s Hydro Christmas lights

Bradwell’s Hydro Christmas  lights

Getting a community engaged with the idea of renewable energy doesn’t have to start with something big. A small idea can create the beginnings for a project that captures people’s imaginations and makes it easy for them to get involved.

Five years ago, in Bradwell, we came up with an experiment to see if we could harness the power of the brook that runs through the centre of the village. As the water levels are naturally higher in the winter, it made sense to see if we could build a water wheel that could generate enough electricity to power some Christmas lights. We also wanted to show that it’s possible to make something useful by reusing old items and inexpensive materials. And so the Bradwell Hydro Project was born.

Look North Interview 13/12/21

Bradwell Hydro uses simple principles and basic equipment – the water wheel is made of bicycle wheels and plastic buckets! But we’ve improved it year on year, learning from our mistakes and finding ways to make the apparatus more efficient and reliable and better able to withstand the changing water levels in the brook.

From the start (and with fantastic support from the teachers) we made sure to involve the children from the local junior school. We created opportunities for them to learn about electricity and how it can be generated and to get hands on with designing the wheel, the light displays and publicity posters. This year, they even learned how to code the digital display that shows messages and details of the power that is being generated.

The community has really taken the project to heart. We’ve had support from local businesses with installing the scaffolding that holds the wheel, procuring and installing the LED lights in the trees and sorting out the batteries and electronics. While our display may not be the biggest you’ve seen, it has had a big impact locally. In December the village came out to enjoy an official “switch on” event, complete with mince pies and mulled wine. We’ve also had some great coverage in local and regional media.

The Bradwell Hydro Project is an example of how we can demonstrate the possibilities of renewable energy generation, involve local people, teach children and bring some joy and colour into our community. Our thanks to everyone who has helped make it happen each year.

The development of Hope Valley Renewables has come about in a similar sort of way, with a group of three locals, two from the Hydro Project, coming together with shared concerns and aspirations, largely to do with sustainability, but also with a view to creating a unique and valuable legacy in the development of sustainable community power sources here in the Hope Valley.

And it’s our ambition (and hope) to bring the community in which we live along with us on the journey as we work towards this legacy. You can join us by clicking on the Join link at the bottom of the Home Page.

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