In late 2015 the Peter Tavy Community Hydropower (PTCH) committee obtained a £20,000 grant from WRAP to implement a feasibility study for a hydropower scheme running from the Colley Brook and ending in the village.
WRAP is an independent organization that administers government funding for the purposes of realizing rural community energy schemes.
The feasibility study on the Peter Tavy Hydropower scheme was finished last year with the aim of determining the financial and environmental feasibility of such a scheme, based on funding from a community share offer.
The study showed that a hydropower scheme could deliver over 400,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, equivalent to use by over 100 households. The scheme capital costs would be in the order of £450,000 to £500,000 and the income from the generated electricity would be over £50,000 per year.
Whilst these figures are impressive, currently the best financial models we have suggest that this rate of return makes the scheme borderline viable. We do not consider it possible to make an attractive community share offer and meaningful community financial benefit without an unacceptable degree of risk. Whilst the scheme is viable if every year’s rainfall is average, a couple of drier winters would put the scheme income in peril. This state of affairs has arisen principally because the government cut hydropower tariffs by around two-thirds a couple of years ago.
Whilst the scheme is, therefore, in a state of dormancy, this may only be temporary. A small change in income received for the power we generated would re-activate it as a robust and viable entity. One way this might happen is if we were able to sell cheap electricity to you via a local energy market. Other ways of increasing the price we get for our energy will be investigated by PTCH committee members over the coming months.
Last year, with a Parish Council member and a village member, we visited the Huckworthy hydropower scheme to see how they have dealt with the potentially aggravating issue of noise generated by the turbine. The scheme is similar in size to the proposed scheme, and with proper design and sound insulation they have reduced the sound essentially to zero even standing outside the turbine shed.
If you would like to know more about the scheme do not hesitate to contact a committee member: Peter Smith, Harry White, Vaughan Nail, Colin and Torie Abel, or visit our website petertavyhydro.org.uk