Centre for Alternative Technology

Centre for Alternative Technology

The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) ( _cy. Canolfan Dechnoleg Amgen) is an eco-centre in Powys, mid-Wales, dedicated to demonstrating and teaching sustainable development. CAT, despite its name, no longer concentrates its efforts on alternative technology, but focuses instead on general environmentalism. It is open to visitors, holds residential courses; and publishes information on organic farming, gardening, and ecologically-friendly living. CAT also runs several eco-businesses, including a consultancy service and mail-order catalogue.

CAT was founded by businessman-turned-environmentalist Gerard Morgan-Grenville, and opened in 1974 in the disused Llwyngwern slate quarry near Machynlleth (once served by the narrow-gauge Corris Railway), where it occupies a seven-acre (28,000 m²) site. It is open all-year except Christmas, seven days a week.


The facilities and exhibits include:
*the water-balanced CAT Funicular, a funicular railway
*solar, hydro and wind power
*a low-energy house
*a site-wide electricity grid powered by renewable energy
*displays of organic gardening methods
*a hydraulic ram pump
*strawbale and rammed earth buildings


In 2000, the Centre became home to a successful MSc course in Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies (AEES). Although run by the University of East London, the course was based at CAT and covers many areas of environmental science and its business applications. In 2007, the Graduate School for the Environment was founded by the team behind the existing MSc. The new organisation is affiliated with CAT and although it continues to be validated by UEL it is no longer a part of the university. In addition to the existing AEES course, an MSc in Renewable Energy and the Built Environment as well as a Professional Diploma in Architecture.cite web |url=http://www.cat.org.uk/graduateschool |title=Graduate School of the Environment |accessdate=2007-10-09]


CAT originally relied on a collection of water, wind and solar power, but following power shortages it began to receive power from the National Grid. Shortly afterwards, in 2004, a large new wind turbine was built using funds generated by selling shares in the project to the community. CAT buys the electricity from the project, and is now a net exporter of energy back to the National Grid.

CAT gets its water from an existing man-made reservoir in the slate quarry on which it is based and processes its own sewage in its reedbeds.

Regional Impact

The presence of the Centre in the Dyfi valley has brought an increased environmental emphasis to the area. At the nearest town, Machynlleth, there is an industrial estate started by ex-CAT employees, and a CAT shop.

ee also

*Energy efficiency in British housing
*El Centro Integrado de Technologia Appropriada (CITA) Cuba's CAT-equivalent
*High fibre composting [ [http://www.cosg.supanet.com/cita.html CITA as Cuba's CAT-equivalent] ]


External links

* [http://www.cat.org.uk CAT home page]
* [http://www.cat.org.uk/msc MSc: AEES home page]

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