Project Update – January 2018
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
Community Energy Spring Gathering 2018
at Dartington, Devon, 9th & 10th March 2018
Calling all community energy practitioners, this open space event is being hosted by communities, for communities, so if you are part of a community energy project or group, then consider yourself invited!
Click here to find out more.
PTCH Committee Report to the Annual Parish Meeting:
PTCH Chair, Harry White reported an update on progress on behalf of the Peter Tavy Hydropower Committee to the Peter Tavy Parish Council APM on 10th May 2017. He has summarised his report as follows:
In the New Year, we received the feasibility study from the independent consultants Hydromatch. There was a delay waiting for the Dartmoor National Park Authority and Environment Agency to come up with the recommendations as to what issues the scheme would need to address in order for it to be acceptable to them. This information was fed into the feasibility study to allow a costing for the project that is based on a scheme that addresses the needs of all stakeholders.
The Hydromatch Feasibility Study report demonstrates that the proposed scheme is financially viable, that it would provide a good rate of interest for the Community Benefit shareholders; provide an income for landowners whose land the pipeline ran over via wayleaves and most importantly, income for the local community from day 1. At the end of 20 years, by which point the shareholders would be paid back and the government tariff subsidy stopped, income from the scheme would drop, with projections indicating this drop being to around half of what had previously been achieved, but with the proviso that most this income would be allocated for benefit of the community, representing a significant overall increase in community income from the scheme at that point.
The PTCH committee recognises the need to communicate both the details and the significant positive benefits of the proposed scheme to the wider community, and members of the committee are as frustrated as any about the need to keep the details of the report and the discussions around the report on a confidential basis for the moment, other than releasing the most general of updates.
However, residents will understand that before presenting the proposals to the community, it is critical that all of the parties that might be affected or potentially affected by the scheme, particularly landowners and residents who’s land or property are crossed by, or near to any part of the installation, are on board with the proposals.
A particularly important issue is that of alleviating (indeed, eliminating) any potential noise blight that could be caused by the siting of a hydropower generator in the village. No-one wants this to be the a problem for any resident and we would expect the design of the generator and the generator shed to ensure that this risk was entirely mitigated. To enable us to see what is possible, the committee is organising a site visit for interested residents and parish councillors to observe measures implemented at a similar scheme located at Huxworthy, one that is sited immediately adjacent to residential property.
Meanwhile, with the advice of Hydromatch and the relevant authorities, PTCH is in the process of resolving the remaining issues. It is only then, when the scheme can be shown to be viable for the whole community and we know the full detail of the actual works involved that we will be able to provide all of the answers to the many questions that we know the community has.
There will be a public meeting and other activities where the outcome of the feasibility study will be discussed, outstanding questions from the community addressed, and the benefits of the proposed scheme to the community set out.
– Harry White, Chair, PTCH
Update: October 2016
We are nearing the end of the feasibility study on the possibility of hydropower in the village. The feasibility report should be delivered before Christmas. As part of this process our consultants Hydromatch have made pre-application enquiries to the Environment Agency (EA), and the Dartmoor National Park Authority (DNPA).
If, once this study is completed, the village decides to go ahead to the next stage, we need to know what issues to address in the planning application and licenses for water abstraction and flood defence.
We had a site visit from both the EA and the DNPA on separate days. The EA officers discussed flooding, ecology and fish migration and how the scheme must not impact these negatively. The scheme diverts some water higher up the brook and runs it down a pipe to the village. This means there is a ‘depleted stretch’ where there is slightly less water. It is important that the reduced flow does not affect the ecology of this part, so the EA checked the Coombe to see how much we can take while leaving it unaffected. Regarding fish migration, it was thought unlikely that sea trout or salmon would make it past the biggest waterfall in the Coombe, so the fish pass on the hydropower weir should only need to accommodate brown trout, although they may decide we need a salmon pass.
The DNPA officers were interested in any parts of the proposal that might affect archaeology, landscape (including historic buildings), ecology, trees and the character of the local environment. There was discussion about making sure the Colly Brook didn’t lose its ‘babbling brook’ character because the hydro was taking some water. The EA license covers this as the scheme won’t take any water when levels are low and will only take a portion of any volume above the minimum flow, which has to be present at all times.
Regarding the buried pipe from the weir to the village, the DNP discussed how the pipe trench shouldn’t damage trees and how any stone walls the pipe passed under had to be reinstated in the same style. The turbine shed, the only visible part of the scheme (to villagers and the public), would be sited across the brook from the chapel. This should be constructed according to the appearance of the most local buildings, i.e., wood cladding and a single pitch corrugated iron roof would suffice. Noise from the turbine was discussed and Hydromatch confirmed that noise cancellation was already a part of the design. Other issues mentioned concerned construction work and ensuring animals are protected from harm during construction. A method statement is required to address these issues.
The consultants, Hydromatch, will now consider all of these issues, together with a number of construction issues that were raised by a local contractor (Cann Brothers), who were invited to be present at the DNPA site visit, They will then complete their assessment of the feasibility of the scheme. The conclusions of the report will then be made widely available to the community, and together, we will be able to decide whether to proceed with the scheme, now or, if the current conditions are unfavourable, at some point in the future.
For further information please visit the website petertavyhydro.org.uk or speak to any member of the committee: Peter Smith, Harry White, Colin and Torie Abel, Vaughan Nail, Tony Pope or Keith Thomas. Alternatively, questions, including any specific questions that individuals may have for the consultants, can be e-mailed to email@example.com
– PTCH Committee, October 2016.
Update: 29th July 2016
Following the 28th January community meeting where nearly 50 residents met together in Peter Tavy Village Hall to discuss the consultant’s findings from the Phase 1 Scoping Study, the consultants work was paused to allow for some of the emerging issues to be addressed. In particular, some of the land owners along the most direct pipeline route between the proposed intake and outfall sites were not supportive of the scheme, or of allowing the pipeline over their land holding.
Subsequently, the PTCH working group met and after discussion of the options, agreed to instruct the consultants to recommence the study based on an alternate (longer) pipeline route that avoided those particular land holdings.
Work to date has included full survey of that route, and system sizing design based on the hydrology and topography. This confirms the technical feasibility of a worthwhile hydropower system which would generate sufficient electricity to meet the average needs of over 80 UK households.
The consultants are now preparing preliminary applications to the Environment Agency (EA) and planning authority (Dartmoor National Park) to obtain their initial review of the conditions that would be placed on a formal application, if it were to be made. These are necessary steps to identify any further work needed (such as more detailed environmental appraisals) which may affect the scheme design.
With EA and DNPA preliminary advice the consultants will be able to carry out the financial modelling and risk assessments including; revenue streams, operating costs, interest and payback of share capital, and worthwhile surpluses for community benefits. Then and only then will they be able to judge the viability of the project, and in particular, whether the scheme could be viable as a community project. It is expected that the consultants will reach this stage and report to the PTCH Working Group by mid-November 2016.
All of the project study information including recommendations as to whether the scheme has any potential at all, will then be available for review and discussion. The PTCH Working Group will ensure that the report will be widely shared and a public meeting will be held at which the consultants will present the report. In the light of that report, the community will be asked to make any further decisions as to the future of the project.
For information, Community renewable energy scheme share offers are normally offered at between 4% and 6% interest with share capital payback phased over years 3 to 20. In recent years these share offers have been taken up quickly due to the relatively low risk compared to other financial offerings with comparable interest rates. The financial modelling and associated risk assessments will determine whether such returns are viable for this scheme.
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First Public Consultation Meeting
On 28th January, PTCH organised a public meeting at the Village Hall to give everyone the opportunity to hear an update on the progress of the Feasibility Study being carried out by the chosen consultants, Hydromatch, to question the consultants on their work to date and to give them valuable feedback.
There was an excellent turnout, with around 40 people present from Peter Tavy village. After introductory words from Harry White, acting Chairman of PTCH, Hydromatch consultants Phil Maher and Hertha Wood presented the findings of their initial scoping study and opened up the meeting to the floor. A vigorous exchange of questions resulted on a wide range of topics.
Jodie Giles from RegenSW (who have supported the Hydropower initiative from the very beginning) then spoke regarding community share offers and community benefits, also stimulating a whole range of interesting questions from the audience.
The consultants have taken the feedback on board and it was agreed that there will be a follow up public presentation of the full feasibility study later in the spring. In the meantime, they offered to make themselves available to clarify any issues which may concern villagers or where additional information is required. They have shared their contact details (click here), and in response to a suggestion from Edward Dodd, have offered to hold an open ‘surgery’ (at a date to be scheduled shortly), where they will make themselves available in the Village Hall for residents to drop in for a one-to-one discussion.
The draft feasibility study meanwhile, is available to download from the web site, together with a 2-page summary. Thanks to the consultants and to everyone who came along to take part, it was fantastic to have such a response.
Finally, several people have expressed an interest in joining the PTCH committee and the committee is very happy to welcome their input and involvement. Contact PTCH on firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website.
Find out more about the project in the new information handout which we have prepared for distribution at community events.
Click here to download a PDF file.
Terms of Reference for the Feasibility Study
The Terms of Reference provided to consultants for undertaking the Feasibility Study are available to download as a PDF file. Click here to download.