What is Reading Hydro?
Reading Hydro Community Benefit Society is a community hydro-electric scheme designed to harness the power of the River Thames.
Our aim is to build twin Archimedes screws beside Caversham weir, creating a carbon neutral renewable energy source in Reading. Construction is expected to begin in Summer 2020, and commissioning taking place towards the end of the year.
The power of the Thames
The River Thames runs 215 miles (346km) from the Cotswolds. Tributaries at Buscot, Reading, and Kingston add approximately 2219 million gallons of water to the River Thames daily. It’s an incredible river, changing with the seasons and the weather, sometimes roaring, sometimes meandering, changing in depth. That’s an incredible opportunity for hydro-electric power.
Wherever water drops a decent distance, power can be generated. In the past waterwheels would turn to mill flour; today hydro technologies turn to generate electricity.
Several micro hydro power schemes already lie on The Thames, including one at the site of the ancient mill at Mapledurham. You can find other hydro turbines at Sonning, Osney and Windsor, which provides power to Windsor Castle.
By adopting leading–edge technology advances tried and tested elsewhere, Reading Hydro will use the latest in hydro designs to generate clean power. Furthermore, we will also include sensors to deliver data and learning that will be made openly available for the public.
Skilled, enthusiastic volunteers run this bold and exciting scheme. Their backgrounds are from many different fields – from technology to marketing – calling on Reading’s true technology strengths.
This scheme offers not only opportunities for learning, but is an interesting investment for those who want to give back to the community. Financially, whilst there are no guarantees, there will be a form of payback (from income via feed–in tariffs and electricity sale), thus proving that small scale hydro-electric power can be economically viable.
The local environment
Environmental projects have to be viewed as a whole, and we are fully conscious of the upfront carbon and environmental costs the project might generate. As such, apart from generating renewable/clean energy – and changing perceptions of renewable energy for the better – local benefits will include improvements to flood relief and better biodiversity created by a new fish run. Bee homes, bug hotels, bat boxes and insect towers will further help to offset impact to local biodiversity. We will also ameliorate any limited ‘low grade woodland’ loss with new native tree planting.
Reading Hydro is an ambitious, aspirational project and the team want this to be just the start of something bigger. As we move forward, we want to create additional community benefits on all kinds of levels: educational, scientific, and even ridding the river of invasive species to help improve fish stock.
You can now register for shares in Reading Hydro CBS. Please click here for more details.