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RTE1 8:30 Tonight - Building Ireland - Ardnacrusha

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RTE1 8:30 Tonight - Building Ireland - Ardnacrusha


This was the largest civil engineering project in the world after WW1. The young free state government invested 20% of GDP in the project that kick started our economic development. In the early decades this renewable energy source ran the ENTIRE national grid. By 1950 it was still generating 70% of the entire nations electricity needs - from water - no imported coal, no peat, no imported oil. Ireland's energy management was 80 years ahead of its time back then!!! :) McLaughlin was a visionary and the young government had the courage and foresight to back his idea. Finished on time and on budget. 5000 men over four years. The German ships arrived in Limerick docks with Siemens-suckart construction equipment 4 weeks after the Dail passed the vote to proceed - weeks, not years. :) As part of the construction project they built a substantial railway network to transport the tonnage of rock and soil they moved, breaking world records for tonnage moved at the time. An amazing yet buried piece of our history. The plant still functions, but now limited to 1%-2% of the grid. A group of us had a guide tour of the entire plant a few years ago and the scale of the thing was incredible. It was Siemens reference site that lead to them building huge hydro plants all over the world in the following decades.

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Great information, Noel!


Hope a few folks got to enjoy the program. It's on RTE player if you missed it.


Ardnacrusha is one of Ireland's best kept secrets and I'd highly recommend a tour. Going through its 102ft lock like going down a mine shaft in a boat. At 30 meters the second deepest marine lock in Europe.


Halfway down the 102ft lock



View back up to the guillotine lock gate 60ft above holding back 9km of water moving at 400 tons/second.



View from outside of the upper lock chamber



Managing the water flow is much like braking a heavy train. If 4 turbines are operating at 100% it can take over 3hrs to gradually shutdown and decelerate the 9km of water in the head race so that it does not tsunami over the dam. They have a vast 'spill' gate in the event of a turbine, valve gate or penstock failure so they can offload water if the head race has not been decelerated enough.

Edited by Noel
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