Project: Harnessing the power of the Thames for the community

READING HYDRO is a community benefit society set up to build a run-of-river hydroelectric scheme and harness the power of the river Thames.

OCE founder and director Michael Beaven is also a Licensed Community Share Practitioner and a volunteer advisor for Reading Hydro, a Community Benefit Society which has installed a hydroelectricity scheme on the River Thames in Reading.  Michael was involved in the design, planning and financing of the scheme and in obtaining some of the permissions required – a process that took many years. Reading Hydro launched its main share offer in December 2019 to raise the money to build the scheme, and further two offers in August 2020 and March 2021. Each was a huge success, with 750 local people and groups investing a total of £1.3 million in the scheme. It is now operational and providing renewable electricity to Thames Lido, a nearby swimming baths and restaurant. Any surplus electricity is sold to the grid.

Reading Hydro’s twin-screw Archimedes turbines will generate 320 Megawatt hours of electricity per year. Using UK government figures, the society estimate that Reading Hydro will save about 5,600 tonnes of CO2 during its 40-year operating life.

The scheme won’t just help the planet and run Thames Lido’s pool and restaurant though, it is also set to make investors happy with anticipated returns of around 2% per year, growing to around 4% per year by year five.  The financial returns are significantly better than the average savings account and come with the priceless knowledge that every pound supports the local community and is helping to create clean, green electricity.

Reading Hydro is just one of the community ownership projects that the OCE team have supported as volunteers or consultants.  Other recent projects include Bovey Paradiso, MaidEnergy renewable energy schemes, the Craufurd Arms community pub and Filling Good re-fill shop.

Commenting on the significance of community ownership Michael said: “Community ownership means that local people manage and benefit from their community assets.  Because they ‘own it’ they are energized to protect, develop and reinvest in their community business, keeping their money doing good locally.  Investment in a community business often starts at under £100, meaning many people can get involved. Everyone who buys-in has an equal vote, no matter how much they invest.  Community ownership is a truly democratic model with local people at its heart, and Reading Hydro is delighted to be part of this movement.”

To find out more about Reading Hydro visit their website: here

Reading Hydro is a Community Benefit Society (CBS), a democratic co-operative that benefits their local community and returns surplus income to it. You can find out more about community benefit societies here and here.

The opening of the Reading Hydro scheme attracted national media attention, including this article written by Toby Walne for the Financial Mail on Sunday, on 28 August 2021.

If you would like to know more about our work with Reading Hydro or find out how Our Community Enterprise could help you, then please Contact Us