Cultural and Museum Studies, University of Nottingham
Waterpower has been an important resource, supplying mechanical, and recently electrical, energy for thousands of years. Facing the challenge of climate change, hydroelectric power (HEP) is a potential mitigation opportunity. However, in England HEP is no longer being considered as an additional source of renewable energy by central government and other key stakeholders, despite infrastructures still being in place. In recent years, potential HEP projects in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire, have failed following the removal of subsidies, planning issues and more challenging environmental regulation.
The aim of the research is to understand why some watermill sites have continued to harness the power of the River Derwent for over 240 years, whilst other sites on the same river haven’t, including some sites removing HEP turbines to take their electricity from the 1950-60s built coal-fired power stations instead.
HEP faces many obstacles today, but by researching the development and use of waterpower in the 18th and 19th centuries, valuable lessons may be learnt about the need to work collaboratively, to use water resources effectively and balance the need to maintain a healthy river eco system, identifying win-win solutions to climate change, finite resources, and nature conservation challenges.
Talks to local history groups