Alok Sharma, the Member of Parliament of Reading West, visited Reading Hydro last week.
Reading Hydro Community Benefit Society (CBS) has launched a renewable hydroelectricity scheme to generate power from the River Thames.
Reading Hydro CBS raised £1.2m from mainly local investors to install a twin Archimedes Screw hydroelectric scheme by Caversham Weir on the River Thames, along with a turbine house to house the generators, gearboxes and control equipment. They laid a cable under the river to Thames Lido, who will buy most of the electricity generated. The turbines should generate about 320MWh of renewable electricity each year for decades to come. This is enough to supply the equivalent of 90 average homes.
Following the official opening, Alok visited View Island and met with Reading Hydro CBS Chair Sophie Paul, along with Board Members Chris Brook, Tony Cowling and Anne Wheldon. Alok had a tour of Turbine House and received a detailed explanation as to the workings of the turbines.
With the money they make from selling the electricity, Reading Hydro CBS will operate and maintain the scheme, pay a return to investors, and put any surplus into a community fund for local low-carbon and sustainability projects.
Reading Hydro has also built a new fish pass on View Island to help fish and eels move up the river. They have also cleared rubbish from the island and created extra habitats for wildlife including bat boxes and bird boxes. This new fish pass is in addition to the existing one on the weir, complementing it with another route more suited to smaller fish species and other migrating aquatic life.
More widely, the UK is leading the way in transitioning to clean and renewable energy. We now have the biggest offshore wind sector in the world, which is set to quadruple in size over the next nine years, and the use of coal in our electricity mix has fallen from around 40% in 2012 to below 2% now and coal will not be part of our electricity mix at all from 2024.
As the holders of the COP26 Presidency, the vitally important UN climate conference taking place in Glasgow in November, the UK is determined to play a pivotal role in promoting a clean energy transition globally and make this the COP which consigns coal power to history.
“It was a wonderful visit to Reading Hydro. I would like to congratulate all the Board members, experts and volunteers for a delivering a brilliant local community project which speaks so powerfully to the message of a sustainable clean energy transition we want to see across the world.”
Alok continued: “All their hard work has produced a scheme which all of Reading can be proud of as the hydro delivers clean energy - each and every one of this team are my Climate Heroes! Thank you again for all you and your fabulous team are doing to support Reading and our community.”
Sophie Paul said:
“Thank you Alok for taking time out of your busy COP26 schedule to come visit our locally funded and supported hydroelectric renewables project down on the river Thames.”
Further information about Reading Hydro is available here: https://readinghydro.org/