AN AMBITIOUS plan to create what is expected to be the largest community-run hydro-power project in the country has moved a step forward, it was announced yesterday.
Sheffield Renewables has raised £65,000 towards its hydro-electricity project at Jordan Dam on the River Don near Meadowhall, an amount which the not-for-profit organisation said was “beyond its expectations” at this early stage of fundraising.
Planning permission has already been granted for the £500,000 hydro-power project, which will see a modern Archimedes screw installed at Jordan Dam, which separates the River Don from the canal.
The downward movement of water will then be used to generate up to 310,000 kilowatts of energy each year – the same amount as would typically be used by 80 average-sized family homes over a 12 month period.
The £65,000 raised so far has come from Sheffield Renewables’ “community shares” scheme, which gives environmentally-minded individuals and organisations the chance to buy into the innovative project.
A spokesman for Sheffield Renewables said yesterday: “The aim is to provide an attractive ethical investment opportunity. Investors receive a modest return, complemented by wider social and environmental benefits.
“The share offer was open to those who had already expressed an interest in the hydro scheme at Jordan Dam and contributes towards the £250,000 target for community investment.
“A further community share offer will be launched to the public this winter, enabling all individuals, organisation and businesses interested in local, ethical and sustainable investing to contribute the remaining £185,000.”
The managing director of Sheffield Renewables, Rob Pilling, said that the aim of the community share scheme was both to raise funds and to attract new members.
He added: “The £65,000 was beyond our expectation at this stage, which gives added confidence in the fundraising potential of the scheme and our offer. To see 50 new members involved is equally encouraging. It shows their enthusiasm and support for the project and provides vital momentum as we move towards our public share offer this winter.”
It is thought that £250,000 of the £500,000 needed for the Jordan Dam project will come from community investment, while the other half of the money will come from grants.
If funding is put in place over this winter, construction work on the project is set get underway next year.
The Jordan Dam hydro-electricity scheme is currently Sheffield’s second-largest community share scheme, following on from the Portland Works share offer which was launched earlier this year.
Portland Works is currently aiming to raise up to £750,000 to buy and operate the former cutlery works as a social enterprise.
The Portland Works building, near Bramall Lane, would then provide affordable workshops and studios for craftspeople, creative industries and small business start-ups.
As well as the Jordan Dam project, Sheffield Renewables is behind another hydro-power scheme in the city.
That project, a collaboration with Sheffield Council and Kelham Island Museum, would involve putting in a water wheel on the River Don at Kelham Island. It is thought that the water wheel could generate 75,000 kilowatts of electricity a year – enough to power 20 homes.
A spokesman for Sheffield Renewables said that a planning application has now been submitted for the Kelham Island project.
He added: “The application has been submitted and was put on hold while we did some more research into issues such as noise and wildlife.”
That application will be considered by Sheffield Council at a future meeting of its city centre, south and east planning board.