Bristol Energy Co-op launches share offer for hydro scheme

The share offer will also support roofop solar and domestic microgrids

Bristol Energy Co-op (BEC) has launched a £2m community share offer for renewable energy projects in the city.

The largest scheme in this share offer is BEC’s river hydro scheme at Netham Weir, mile away from Bristol Temple Meads railway station.

BEC points to the increasing popularity of micro hydro schemes which use water pouring over weird to power turbines. It has been developing this site several years and has won planning consent from Bristol City Council and the necessary Environment Agency licences.

The project will use twin Archimedes screw turbine technology with a combined 300kW output, enough to power 250 typical homes.

The scheme will run night and day throughout the year, with peak
output in winter. Its total cost is around £2.4m.

The scheme is not eligible for the Feed-In Tariff scheme, so BEC has sought additional sources of funding for the project. It has crowd-funded £30,000 of donations from over 400 supporters to progress the preconstruction phase of the scheme and is seeking in-kind support from a number of businesses.

BEC also plans to add to its portfolio of rooftop solar through the share issue.

And it is working with Bristol-based start-up CleanEnergy Prospector (CEPRO) and Chelwood Community Energy (CCE) to develop the UK’s first net-zero domestic housing microgrid. Microgrids use shared on-site renewables, heat pumps for heating and hot water, and battery storage to meet domestic energy needs.

Residents get most of their energy from on-site generation, says BEC. They top up from the grid when needed, and exporting any excess energy to it. No fossil fuel will be used on the site – at the new Water Lilies housing development in the Lawrence Weston area of the city.

Chair Peter Thompson said: “Our co-op has been developing community-owned, green energy generation since 2011. In that time we’ve raised over £12m, installed over 9MWp of solar and battery assets, and facilitated over £250,000 of community benefit payments.

“With this latest share offer we enter a new era of subsidy-free projects. The Feed-in Tariff support scheme is no longer available to us, but the climate emergency makes the need for renewable energy ever more urgent.

“We’re rising to the challenge, and developing a number of projects with a range of technologies. As our projects will be unsubsidised for the foreseeable future, the projected annual interest rate return of 3.5% for this share offer is less than in previous BEC offers.

“As in previous share offers your investment is in withdrawable shares, valued at £1 each. You may invest between £100 and £100,000, and each investor receives one vote regardless of the amount invested.”

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