The customer

Cromford Mills is an UNESCO World Heritage Site owned and managed by The Arkwright Society, a charity dedicated to the preservation of industrial heritage buildings. Cromford Mills is the home of Sir Richard Arkwright’s first mill complex and is considered the birthplace of the modern factory system.

The challenge

The Arkwright Society aspire to reinstate a water wheel into the existing wheel pit, which still receives the full flow of water from Bonsall Brook. The water currently cascades 6.5m before discharging back to the River Derwent, representing a potential continuous source of energy if harnessed.

The Solution

The project aims to generate renewable energy from water for Cromford Mills and the wider community. The head and flow at the wheelpit provide the raw potential for a new micro-hydro scheme, which in combination with water source heat pump could provide significant energy savings for the Mill complex and Cromford Village.

The Experience

Cromford Mill was successful this April in securing RCEF funding for a feasibility study to look at reinstating a waterwheel first installed in 1776. The scheme will provide up to 20kW hydroelectric power for Cromford Mill. Also included in the proposal is a plan install either a similar hydro system in Cromford village or a water source heat pump utilising a refurbished existing 12kW hydro turbine.

The feasibility study investigated the types of turbine most compact and efficient turbine suited in the setting. It was identified that a modern Kaplan turbine that would exploit the full potential of the site with maximum efficiency and could potentially save the Mill £17,600 a year in electricity bills.

Cromford Mill were successful in securing funding in a Stage 2 application to RCEF to complete the next steps in progressing this exciting an important project.

Project Specification

  • Total kWp: 20
  • Funding solution: Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF)

Contact us

For more information please email