WORK has begun on a £180,000 hydro-electric scheme at the Blenheim Palace estate.
Dorchester-based Hallidays Hydropower started work on Monday to install an 11.5-tonne Archimedes screw turbine at Bladon Lake dam on the River Glyme, in Woodstock.
The 32ft by 7ft screw, positioned below a waterfall, will generate 60,000 kWh of clean power each year, providing enough electricity to power 20 homes in the estate.
The scheme, which was delayed by three months because of wet weather, should save the estate £18,000 a year in electricity costs once it is up and running in August.
It took two-and-a-half hours for eight workmen to install the screw and the Duke of Marlborough, who owns Blenheim Palace, visited the site.
Hallidays chief engineer Henry Reily-Collins, who worked on the project for four years, admitted he was “nervous” about damaging the dam, which dates from the 18th century landscaping of the park.
He said: “To see it finally in place and know that it fits with the landscape harmoniously was a relief.
Hallidays Hydropower's chief engineer Henry Reilly Collins
Electricity is generated by the turning motion caused by the weight of water as it falls down the length of the screw.
A steel tube will encase the screw, which has a 100-year lifespan, and it will be buried, but with three glass ‘trapdoors’ in the ground, where it will be possible to watch the screw turning.
There will also be a fish pass alongside.
There are plans to build a second turbine on the estate at Blenheim Lake dam.