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The Co-operative gives hydro power a double boost

October 15, 2009

A pioneering community hydro generation enterprise, which uses river power to produce electricity, was given a double boost today (15 October) by The Co-operative Group.

Water Power Enterprises (h2oPE), which will open Settle Hydro, Yorkshire's first co-operatively and community owned hydro electricity plant later this year, has received £96,000 from The Co-operative which has also agreed to purchase the power produced for its local food store.

The money, which follows a previous donation of £48,000, will enable Water Power Enterprises (h2oPE) to support a total of 13 such schemes over a three-year period.

The 50kW hydro power plant at Bridge End Weir in Settle will use a modernised version of a 2,000-year-old Greek invention - the Archimedean screw - to generate electricity when it is completed later this year.

The Co-operative has a track record of supporting innovative small-scale renewables, and has Solar-PV and biomass all running on its premises. The Group supported a similar scheme at New Mills in Derbyshire, where The Co-operative Enterprise hub worked with H2oPE to establish community-ownership and the local Food business purchased the electricity from the project.

At Settle The Co-operative has devised an innovative power purchase agreement where it will buy back the output from the project and in so doing provide a crucial income stream.  

Nigel Holden, Head of Energy & Environment at The Co-operative Group said: “Taking the electricity to power our Settle store is a further demonstration of our work to support small-scale renewable energy developers and in turn help combat climate change.

“By agreeing to take that amount of power we will underpin the scheme and ensure its long-term viability. Eventually, we hope to take over 15 per cent of The Co-operative’s electricity requirements from sources such as Settle Hydro which are the perfect complement for our larger wind farm developments.’

Steve Welsh, Managing Director of Water Power Enterprises (h2oPE) said: “With the support of The Co-operative we have not only been able to launch our second scheme but we have been able to organise workshops so that other communities can find out how they can set up similar initiatives.

“It is our ambition to see hundreds of similar sites around the north of England, and thanks to the money from The Co-operative we are making great strides towards making this potential reality.”

The support for this project comes from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub, which has been set up to support new and existing co-operative enterprises with advice, training and grants.

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