Of all the impressive mining and quarrying achievements from 200 years ago we could investigate in PL24, the hydro energy generation is the most important for today. The financial success of Treffry and his mine venture was very dependent on his water energy schemes. Reports mention 17 and eventually 20 water wheels on the main mine site alone. But much more recently, though not many people are aware of it, a modern turbine system generated approaching £150,000 worth of electric that was sold to the grid, between 2006 and 2016. Hydro is not something that can be consigned to the past, it is a lesson we should be learning for the future especially knowing that Cornwall Council have set a very ambitious 2030 Carbon Neutral target. https://www.cornwall.gov.uk/environment-and-planning/climate-emergency/. Every type of potential sustainable power generation needs to be explored.
Wind turbines, Wave generation, Lithium extraction in brine underground, for battery technology – funding and expertise are already being directed to these technologies (and by the way, Lithium extraction was another known technology 200 years ago. Find our more at https://www.cornishlithium.com/cornish-lithium-on-bbc-countryfile/).
The mine shafts of Cornwall and empty clay pits also have potential to be developed as sources of emergency back-up power for the grid … ask Caroline to explain.
What can we do? As more and more local supporters sign up, we will be working together to finalise a Green Campaign document. One of the first issues to tackle is the car journeys into the valley. Sat Nav systems are creating havoc, directing tourists to use our lanes as best route East to West in this part of the county. Many strategies are under consideration, including closure of Black Hill to all but farm traffic, with alternative car park provisions being offered. The concept of a ‘Green Corridor’ is being explored, leaving cars adjacent to a major road and taking to electric bikes or scooters. The batteries would be charged by solar, hydro, wind or a combination … whatever is most feasible for a particular site. The new tracks required across countryside would have to be quite wide, to keep pedestrians safe. If possible the design would also incorporate new planting of habitats for wild life, or trees as a contribution to the 8000 hectares needed for the Forest for Cornwall initiative.
For the power generation in Luxulyan Valley we envisage small turbines in series along the whole leat or river, connecting together to a battery store area. A number of suitable sites and designs are being considered, with input from an expert company (http://www.on-stream.co.uk) to help progress our ideas. If one new NE section of leat can be created, along with repairs to the existing upper leat, it may become possible to feed into a new overshot giant wheel in the wheel pit and use that power too. What an amazing result that would be! These are very ambitious ideas, but (twisting the old quote) ‘faint heart never won’ anything worthwhile. We will only reach Carbon Neutral status with big proposals, thousands of supporters and government on board.
To get involved
Book your visit to the History Centre and talk to Caroline in person. Or call her on 07967 653346.