A Welsh sheep and cattle farmer has found a new stream of income by harnessing the water on his land with a hydroelectric power generator. He’s now advising other landownders how to earn extra revenue this way.

Britain’s dry spell, which has lasted for three months, has been a source of great concern for farmers, few more so than Alan Williams.

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Three years ago Williams found a positive way of dealing with the excessive rain which usually blights the Welsh countryside.

After a recommendation from a visiting Brecon Beacons National Park Authority representative, Williams installed a small hydroelectric power installation for 32,600 US dollars on his farm at Hendre Glyn Farm in the picturesque village of Llangattock, Wales.

Williams said his investment in the green power energy source has paid great dividends.

[Alan Williams, Farmer]:
“We financed that ourselves, so we thought, well, we’d take a risk on it and that’s what we have done and after two-and-a-half years we had our money back over that.”

Williams and wife Vicky have seen their own electricity bills reduced from 3,260 US dollars a year to around 163 US dollars.

They also receive an annual payment of 6,500 US dollars from Ofgem for producing renewable energy, and another 11,400 US dollars annually for the electricity exported to the National Grid.

The mini hydroeclectric plant is positioned downstream.

Water flows across a grid to remove the silt and into a holding tank, running through a pipe under a field to the generator at the bottom of the slope.

Williams said the plant’s installation had been remarkably easy.

[Alan Williams, Farmer]:
“People would think it’s going to take a lot of trees cutting down and ditches being dug, but as you can see down through here, there’s no trees been cut down. There’s no trench, well a trench has been dug but its back over, you can’t see where its been. It’s all environmental free, you know, it’s there.”

The project has funded research into six more micro-hydro schemes in the area, which together will generate around 113 kilowatts of energy, enough to power 56 homes.

Williams says the generator will last for up to eight years before it needs to have its bearings altered. Otherwise no maintenance is needed.

As Monmouthshire county chairman for the National Farmers Union, he also spends time attempting to persuade his fellow farmers to turn to water to boost their livelihoods.

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