British Waterways hopes to generate enough electricity to power 40,000 homes through small-scale hydro electric plants at weirs

British Waterways has hatched a novel plan to plough money back into its waterways by generating renewable energy and selling it back into the power grid.

Through a joint initiative with The Small Hydro Company, BW plans to generate some 210,000-megawatt hours of electricity annually from around 25 small-scale hydro electricity generators installed alongside weirs.

The scheme will require around £120m of private capital over the next three years, but if successful, will eventually generate enough power for 40,000 homes, create 150 construction jobs and save around 110,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The process of gaining consent for the installation of the first five hydro schemes will begin later this month, with the first turbines expected to be up and running next year.

The partnership with The Small Hydro Company follows a similar scheme to install wind turbines on canal-side property over the next five years that BW hopes will one day generate 219,000-megawatt hours renewable energy.

Hilary Benn MP, the environment secretary, said: “Britain’s waterways were the arteries of our economy, providing transport and power. This scheme shows how with ingenuity and innovation they can once again deliver real economic, social, and environmental benefits, especially in tackling and adapting to climate change.”