A dam good day out (what engineers do on holiday)

Just come back from a great week’s holiday in Cardigan, South Wales. Sadly the weather wasn’t always on our side and there was a fair amount of the wet stuff falling from heaven.

The best of the weather at Solva

A quick bit of research on rainy day activities came up with the site tour of Cwm Rheidol hydro electric power station near Aberystwyth, operated by Norwegian renewable energy company Statkraft. This is a 56 MW hydro scheme that began generating in 1962 and provides enough electricity to power around 20,000 homes.

Turbine room and monitoring station in Cwm Rheidol

The power station is also used as a monitoring hub for the company’s other UK assets and can remotely control wind turbines operating around the country. As well as the power station, there is an excellent visitor’s centre with interactive displays – you get a real sense that the company wants to engage with the public, especially young people to get them interested in clean energy.

Generators – 2 x 20MW

Having done the tour of the power station we drove up to the upper reservoir at Nant y Moch, where you can drive across the dam. Sadly as the generators were running at the time, we weren’t able to go below to the turbine room due to the deafening noise.

Nant y Moch dam

The scheme has been carried out with due care to the environment and has won awards for the landscaping work and environmental sensitivity. All in all it was a ‘dam’ good day out (sorry!), and inspiring to see what can be achieved – it’s always really impressive to see engineering projects on this scale, all the more so when you know how much of the work was done by hand with pick and shovel (and the odd stick on dynamite!).

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