The hydro plan

Weir at Caversham Lock. Photo: Cycling Man

The River Thames already has several existing micro hydro power schemes, including one at the site of the ancient mill at Mapledurham, and another at Windsor, giving power to the castle. Several others are being considered by local groups and businesses along the Thames. In Reading, a community cooperative is planning to harness the river’s power. This site has a long history, the Reading Hydro scheme being planned at Caversham weir, which had a water mill at the time of the Doomsday Book.

Downstream of Reading Bridge this wide weir spans across from Caversham Lock to View Island. A public footpath runs across the top of the weir. Reading Hydro plans to put in a small hydro electric power generating system crossing under the footpath close to View Island. It will only be a few metres wide and will extend a few metres downstream mostly under water. Micro hydro schemes operate quietly nearly all year round, producing a reliable and unobtrusive renewable source of energy.

Being close to the train station and town centre and easily accessible on foot, the hydro scheme will be open to all to visit, such as local schools, as well as universities and community micro generation groups from around the country.

We are examining different options for selling the electricity generated, including emerging local supply mechanisms. After costs are covered, profits will go to return back to investors and invest in local community sustainability projects.

Reading Hydro is a Community Benefit Society, so anyone who becomes a member has an equal vote in how it is run. We have a wide variety of members and volunteers, including the five founding directors. There are many different ways in which you can support us.

A natural fish pass will be added to enhance the environment, running through the trees of View Island, using the existing topography. This aims to make it easier for fish to pass up and down stream than through the current steep fish pass, which shall also remain in place.

We applied for planning permission in the Summer of 2015, and hope that we are close to having a decision made by the Planning Department, as we have fulfilled all the requests by the Environment Agency, and have the relevant licenses from them. One of these was to produce a contaminated land risk assessment, involving wide research of the local history and geology, which we shall openly share through this website.