£1m hydroelectric station bid to harness power of the River Avon in Bath
Energy will be harnessed from the River Avon to help power one of the city’s businesses.
Locally-owned energy company, Bath and West Community Energy (BWCE), has agreed a lease with bus operator First for a piece of land near the weir on Weston Island.
BWCE wants to install a £1 million hydroelectric station on the site capable of generating 300 kW of electricity, enough to power 250 homes, just by utilising the natural power of the water.
The company hopes to have the station, which will involve water turbines, up and running by the end of 2014.
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BWCE chair Pete Capener said: “We are pleased that First has taken such a positive attitude to this scheme. We feel that the River Avon has a huge potential to supply power to the people of Bath. There is still a long way to go before the scheme is built but we look forward in due course to offering the residents of Bath and the surrounding area a chance to invest in this imaginative scheme.”
The £1 million needed for the project will be raised by selling shares in BWCE.
The offer will be open to all, but if demand is high, preference will be given to BWCE members and then to people living in and around Bath.
The company says that electricity generated at the site would be sold to First Bus for use at its bus depot, and any surplus power would be fed into the National Grid.
Group environmental manager for First, Graham Thurstan, said: “This is an innovative project and one we welcome. We have been in negotiation with BWCE for some time while the full implications of leasing part of our site to them has been considered. “We are pleased to say that we have reached an initial agreement with them and we are now in discussion with them around the next stages of this project.”
BWCE has also confirmed it is continuing to pursue a second site for harnessing power from the River Avon at Batheaston.
The company said it had signed a lease for land near the Old Mill Hotel and hopes to apply for planning permission once some financial details have been sorted out.
BWCE said it planned to install a working wooden water wheel at this second site.
It has already installed solar panels at a number of schools across the Bath area.