In 2006, Ham residents formed Ham United Group (HUG) to improve the local environment, build community cohesion and raise ecological awareness. HUG is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and is a member of Ham Hydro CIC (registration number: 07231031) to ensure HUG’s continuing connection with the hydro project.
The group quickly expanded and in 2007 became interested in developing a hydropower project at the nearest suitable location, Teddington Weir, which connects Ham with Teddington on the other side of the River Thames. In early 2009 the group then commissioned a local renewable energy consultancy, Thames Renewables, to produce a feasibility study for the project. This study demonstrated the clear viability of such a scheme and the steering group then decided to form Ham Hydro to take the project forward. Coincidentally, in the same year the GLA had also commissioned a feasibility study (a summary of which is available here: feasibility summary) to examine the site.
The CIC is a social enterprise which aims to harness the expertise and power of community to help to create a low-carbon economy. Any surpluses after debt or interest repayments will be used to develop further low-carbon solutions in Ham & Petersham, Teddington and in Richmond Borough as a whole.
In early March 2010, the Environment Agency issued a call for expressions of interest to develop a hydro power scheme on Teddington Weir. Ham Hydro worked extremely hard to make a submission and was selected for the interview stage.
The Environment Agency told us in early August 2010 that we had been selected as the developer for this project. We are being asked to work with a well-established civil engineering firm to develop the project and signed an exclusivity agreement with the EA in January 2011. We aim to be generating electricity from the scheme in 2014. Under our plans, the scheme will generate enough electricity to power 600 homes and save around 1000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
We have the backing of our local MPs, Zac Goldsmith and Vince Cable, as well as Richmond Council and a host of local groups and organisations.
Zac Goldsmith MP: “This is a hugely exciting local project, but it is also important nationally. Small-scale, decentralised clean energy is the future, and Ham is right at the cutting edge. Big congratulations to Ham Hydro for all the work they’ve done.”
Vince Cable MP: “This is a really imaginative, practical initiative that will provide environmental benefits with community gain. Although the project has received clearance, in principle, from the Environment Agency there are still many issues around charges still to be worked out. But I am confident that organisers will be able to get this project moving. They have my full support.”
We will be raising capital through a share issue, to be announced shortly – so watch this space for further details. In addition, we are currently looking into a number of other renewable energy projects and we are hoping to link our projects with the delivery of the Low Carbon Zone and, when that initiative ends, with similar projects.