Corwen Electricity Group came together as a community to build a 55KW, high head hydro scheme in the town of Corwen. The scheme is 100% owned and run by the community. They now generate approximately 138,000kWh of renewable electricity every year. This equates to a saving of approximately 56,862 kg CO2e per annum.
Corwen Electricity Group came together as a community to build a 55KW, high head hydro scheme in the town of Corwen. The scheme is 100% owned and run by the community. They raised over £300,000 for the construction with a share offer. Over 50% of which were bought by people in and around the town of Corwen. The project started several years ago when they met in the Corwen Sports Pavilion at a meeting organised by Cadwyn Clwyd and Renew Wales. From this, four members of the community agreed to set up the Corwen Electricity Cooperative.
The share offer was launched and completed during 2015/16 and construction began in June 2016. The scheme was built on time and within budget and began exporting clean, green and renewable energy on the 16th December 2016.
The scheme will generate approximately 1.7 million kWh of renewable energy over the next 20 years. It will also pay out over £250,000 of interest to stakeholders, £125,000 to shareholder residents in the town of Corwen and generate over £10,000 for a community benefit fund over the life of the scheme.
It has been a long and difficult journey taking over 7 years to come to fruition. The first meeting took place in 2009 and there have been many issues to content with including dealing with five separate land owners and the disputed ownership of Corwen reservoir. There was significant local resistance to the idea of the scheme, with many believing it impossible to raise £300,000 locally. Also, many thought it would harm the fish and increase risk of flooding. Reassurance was developed in the local community through a lot of public meetings and site walks.
“As a group, we had no experience of renewable energy or climate change projects or indeed any experience in setting up a Co-operative and managing capital projects. However, we have galvanised our community, bringing it together to build a 55kW high head hydro power scheme.
As a group we oversaw the development, design and build of the scheme. This was a steep learning curve but the project was finished within budget and on time. We now have the confidence to take on new projects.” Corwen Electricity Group
Costs and Funding
The Cooperative launched a share offer with support from Sharenergy and raised the £300,000 needed to develop and build the scheme. Over 50% of the shares were bought within the Corwen postcode and 80% in north Wales.
The group found it difficult to secure funding for feasibility and at-risk work including £30,000 for legal fees for leases, £5,000 for detailed designs and £10,000 for grid connection, tree surveys, habitat surveys, planning etc. There were delays in getting leases leading to a 20% reduction in the Feed in Tariff income.
Long Term Vision
“We wish to enable residents to benefit from the energy produced by the hydro scheme. We hope to do this by being part of the extended energy local trial that is currently taking place in Bethesda. This will help ensure that local people have access to cheap, green and renewable energy. We wish to focus on those who are in the greatest need. This will also increase the revenue for the group allowing us to create a larger community fund. We are working with private generators in the area to ensure the scheme would have sufficient energy from a range of technologies to meet the demand in Corwen. We are also talking to a farmer about an AD plant which could be used. We are also exploring the potential for a second 100kW hydro scheme at Bonwm near Corwen.”
Corwen, Denbighshire, North Wales.
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