Construction has started on Rochdale’s new bus and Metrolink interchange – the first in Europe with integrated hydropower generation.

The £11.5m interchange, is next to the River Roch, the river that gave the Lancashire town its name. When it opens next year it will be the first building of its kind in Europe to have integrated hydropower generation, using the river to generate its electricity.

A hydroelectric turbine has been installed which converts energy from the river as it flows rapidly through a weir. The weight of the water turns the screw shaped turbine, generating electricity. The turbine produces up to 86,000kWh of electricity every year, which will help to reduce the interchange’s carbon footprint by over a quarter.

The turbine is driven by an ‘Archimedean screw’, which was supplied by Spaans Babcock, a specialist contractor with a local base in Heywood. There is also a fish pass, funded by the Environment Agency, which helps fish to swim upstream past the turbine to migrate and spawn.

For passengers, the new interchange will be a modern, striking landmark for the town centre, replacing the existing bus station and providing significantly improved passenger services.

It has been funded by Transport for Greater Manchester, the EU’s INTERREG IVB Ticket to Kyoto project, the Northwest Development Agency, Rochdale Borough Council and the Environment Agency.