Monday, 15 October 2012
Power of the Plas
It was one of the first houses in Wales to have electricity with a Gilkes turbine installed in 1905. This was used until 1928; presumably made redundant by the opening of the much larger Maentwrog hydro scheme which was big enough to power all of north Wales. Since then nuclear has been and (almost) gone from Trawsfynydd and in a few months The Plas will be back to having its own hydro power generated by yet another Gilkes turbine.
Construction is fraught with conservation complication. Work on the turbine end, alongside the main road, can only be done in the summer months so as not to disturb bats. Trench work at the top end has to wait until the ecologist confirms ground nesting birds have fledged. The section through the orchard to the road has to avoid anthills. And then there are trenches beneath highly prized trees, such as the huge limes and the ‘Tree of Heaven’, which have to be hand dug to preserve the roots.
The scheme will cost £420K and, at current electricity prices, is expected to have a ten year payback. Generating 100,000 Kw a year that’s enough for about fourteen normal households.