Regular readers will know that plans are being considered by British Waterways and the Department for Climate Change to produce hydro-electric power from the Audlem locks system. The potential 175,000 kWh/year will provide sufficient power for between forty and fifty village homes.
News of the plan has resulted in a visit to Audlem by German green energy expert Herr Doktor Engineer A. Dummkopf. He has suggested that, as well as the 900m underground pipe on the east side of the canal carrying the excess canal water to the turbine, a similar pipe is laid on the west bank of the canal. Powered by a low-energy pump, water would be pumped back up the canal system to a water storage tank near the top of the locks using off-peak electricity.
The principle is similar to the Dinorwig Power Station in North Wales, which pumps water at off-peak times to a massive underground cavern near the top of a mountain before releasing the water down pipes through turbines to meet peak-time power surge demands.
Dr. Dummkopf says his scheme will provide a similar surge of power to meet Audlem's needs when, for example, kettles are switched on at half-time during football matches on TV, the Christmas lights are switched on or there's a Hot Chilli Night at the Scout & Guide Hall.
His scheme will require the construction of a very large water storage tank near Coxbank. The good Doktor suggests painting it green at the bottom and sky blue at the top and, with the addition of a few realistic looking Friesian cows painted to scale, it should blend in with the local countryside.
Asked if there were any major risks in having such a large tank at Coxbank, he said: "Being land-based, we have eliminated the use of bouncing bombs – we Germans have long memories of that damn incident, you know. As for local wandals, playing with the tank's stopcock should do little more than provide an untimely power surge that might knock some sense into them."
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