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Wiltshire canal boat holidays


Caen Hill lock flight on the Kennet And Avon Canal is helping millions of people to enjoy a tea break during peak time TV programmes.

The Canal and River Trust has joined forces with Open Energi to turn off water pumps on the historic Wiltshire site at the times when the National Grid needs to borrow electricity to cope with major surges in demand.

Sporting competitions and breaks during popular TV shows such as Coronation Street are among the times when the technology is needed.

The National Grid is unable to store electricity and reducing consumption from large electricity users for a few minutes during these peak times.

It is the first time the canal network has been used for this purpose.

Pumps at the Caen Hill Lock, Seend, Semington, Wootton Rivers and Bradford-upon-Avon send the equivalent of 9,000 Olympic sized swimming pools back to the top of hills along the Kennet And Avon Canal, after the movement of boats through locks has brought the water down the slopes.

Open Energi’s technology can also turn the pumps on if there is too much energy in the grid, which can lead to equipment failures.

For example, when over 17 million people watched Andy Murray win the Wimbledon title in sweltering temperatures, the canal's pumps helped to absorb the excess energy which was, in effect, left on the grid while people were busy cheering Andy and not making cups of tea.

Darren Parkinson, from the Canal and River Trust, said It is great that something 200 years old is solving a very 21st Century-century problem and that it is embracing cutting-edge technology and doing its bit to help people all over the country go about their daily lives is fascinating.

Next time you flick the switch on the kettle at half-time in the Cup Final or during the X Factor, remember there’s part of a historic waterway going to sleep for a few minutes to help you.

Ged Holmes from Open Energi, added Most people do not realise but National Grid faces a daily challenge to balance our energy supplies.

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