Canals have already been hailed as a low carbon way to transport goods, but now a new scheme hopes to reinvent them as green power stations. British Waterways, which maintains 2,200 miles of canals and rivers, is planning to install enough wind turbines and small hydro-electric projects to save 100,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.
It looks like a win-win for cutting emissions and local wildlife conservation. British Waterways intends to build 50 wind turbines with a total 100 megawatt capacity, which means we're talking big wind farm-style turbines here rather than small wind power. "If we successfully develop this resource it would mean the nation’s canal network would generate more than ten times more electricity than it consumes," says British Waterways CEO Robin Evans.
The money made from selling the green electricity will be spent on maintaining the canals. As anyone who's ever taken a barge holiday or strolled down a canal-bank will tell you, that's good news for conservation as canals are incredibly important wildlife havens.
British Waterways' plans aren't too surprising considering given canal homeowners reputation for living alternative lifestyles. I once knew electric car employee who lived on a barge with a turbine -- and she wasn't the only one -- so I'm guessing this news will go down well with the UK's bargists.
There's no firm timeline yet for the turbine insallations, but watch this space.