The Afon Dulais river has been at the heartbeat of industry at Aberdulais since the 16th Century. The National Trust acquiring the site in 1981 to not only preserve this immense industrial heritage, but also to guide the property into the 21st Century. With this in mind, work has recently begun on phase 1 of the site hydropower generation upgrade project. The project incorporates two hydroelectric plants –
1. The 18kw “overshot” waterwheel
2. The 230 kw Kaplan turbine (Called Edvard).
This first phase sees the complete refurbishment of the largest waterwheel in Europe producing electricity. This will not simply be a “new lick of paint”.Measuring 8.2 meteres in diameter, and weighing over 16 tonnes the wheel will be lifted and supported by crane whilst the gearbox and generator are disconnected.
Both the generator and gearbox are then taken off site to be fully stripped down, cleaned, repaired, and finally given a new lick of paint.In the meantime the wheel is jacked up and supported. The bearings on the wheel are replaced with new ones, and damaged gaskets and seals renewed.
Support arms are checked, as is the wheel itself. Then it all gets put back together again.