Take a stroll across the dam at Dove Stone Reservoir, Greenfield, Oldham and you may not be aware of the development that has taken place far below you. After five years of organisation and negotiation, the Saddleworth Community Hydro-electric scheme is up and running.
Renewables First have designed the first scheme of its kind in England; built a new turbine house, installed the pipework and the turbine itself. All the fine tuning and tweaking for its commissioning has now been completed. The all year round flow of water means that a steady generation of 43KW of hydroelectricity will produce enough zero carbon electricity for about 75 homes.
The pioneering scheme uses the 16 million litres of water that are released from the reservoir every day to maintain the river. With 5 million tonnes of water behind it and falling 35 metres, this water has been diverted to flow through the new turbine house. The water then continues on its way down to the river, but the energy extracted is used to generate electricity, which is supplied to and distributed via the National Grid.
Bill Edwards, chairman of Saddleworth Community Hydro, says “This project demonstrates that a group of local people can actually do something to slow down climate change! We are not powerless or helpless! We now know how to set up such a project and are happy to share what we have learned and so enable others to replicate our success.”
This innovative community hydroelectric scheme will be officially opened on 23 September by Chief Executive of The Centre for Alternative Technology at Machynlleth, Adrian Ramsay, who says:
“The scheme is an excellent example of what can be achieved when the community comes together to think creatively about producing a sustainable source of energy which is within their own control. CAT’s report Zero Carbon Britain sets out a vision for a Britain that is
not reliant on fossil fuels and that is combating climate change; communities like Saddleworth are starting to make that vision a reality and I hope they will inspire others to join them.”
With permission and technical assistance from United Utilities, the owners of the reservoir, the group has been able to install the first hydro-electric scheme at an existing high head dam in England.
Saddleworth Community Hydro Limited is an Industrial and Provident Society, made up from local and national members with a passion for the environment. Capital from shareholders eventually matched a significant grant from Defra. It will provide a steady income to give a modest return to shareholders and be used for the promotion and development of local, sustainable, Green Energy projects.
Further information at www.Saddleworthhydro.co.uk