DONEGAL COUNTY Council is set to become what is believed to be the first local authority in Ireland to use water powered street lights.
The council’s energy development officer Toni Needham said a private company had been contracted to install a “hydro light” on a footbridge over the River Finn in Ballybofey.
She said that once water levels drop a micro hydro-turbine will be installed under the bridge which links Jackson’s Hotel and the scenic Drumboe Woods.
Water flowing downstream will pass through the 110 watt turbine and generate enough power to charge batteries which will run the 30 watt LED light on the bridge above.
The council is currently piloting a number of technologies as part of their programme for renewable and low energy lighting.
“I think this will be the first in Ireland and it will be interesting to see how it works.
“It can produce enough energy to power up to three lights. However, we will just use one light at first,” Ms Needham said.
The hydro unit cost €3,000. The council provided €50,000 in 2008 to pilot alternative energy lighting.
LH Ecotech Ltd in Co Laois has been contracted by the council to supply and install hydro and solar power lights on the Ballybofey bridge.
Ecotech joint-owner Jaune Henby said it had already installed two solar powered lights on the bridge and they are both working very well.
However, the hydro light in Ballybofey will be a first for the developing company.
“We only have done tests on the hydro lights and have never installed one for a customer before. However, we do know that they work,” he said.
He explained that the turbine unit would generate enough power to run three lights on the bridge.
A small solar panel will also be fitted to the light as a back-up for the summer months and for when the water level of the river is too low.