The Environment Agency is the landlord of Teddington Weir and opened up the possibility of developing hydro power on it in April 2010. The team formed a non-profit organisation to bid for the exclusive rights to develop a project there. We were successful and have been working ever since to develop a workable design.
Once built, the scheme will produce approximately 1.6GWh of electricity. This power will be exported into the grid, rather than directly to power local homes, but in order to help understand the amount of power the scheme will produce, this is enough to cover the electricity needs of roughly 600 homes at the upper end, or around 80% of the electricity requirement of Richmond Borough’s Schools and reduce carbon emission by nearly 1,000 tonnes per year. Embedded carbon, i.e. the carbon impact of building of the scheme have been modelled independently by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the streamlined lifecycle sustainability assessment shows the carbon payback of the scheme to be nine months.
Community Owner – Aligned With Government Objectives
The scheme will be community owned, with community investors benefiting from the financial benefits of energy generation through variable interest payments on their investments. This aligns with the policy objective of both the previous and current government to incentivise community-owned renewable energy. Indeed, the Department of Energy & Climate Change recently published its Community Energy Strategy which promotes and incentivises individuals and communities to generate and export renewable energy through the system of feed-in tariffs, for which our scheme is eligible.
In addition to this, 10% of profits will be gifted to the Teddington & Ham Hydro Foundation, which will seed other renewable and fuel poverty alleviating projects locally.
Our project will not only provide a compelling social return, it will also provide an attractive financial return. Further details of the financial viability of the scheme can be found here.
The design of the scheme incorporates features which harmonise with the aesthetic of the current weir structures and also echo another major feature of the river Thames, the Thames Barrier thus “book-ending” the tidal stretch of the river. The design also reinstates some character to this section of the weir which was lost when the former roofed walkway was demolished to make way for the current structure.
The specific location of the scheme has been determined by the Environment Agency with statutory requirements for fish passage and flood relief. The flow capacity of the section of the weir to be replaced must be replicated by the scheme without any adverse impact on flow management, flood relief or habitats.
The scheme will also be placed away from the main navigation route and will mean least disruption for river users during construction and operation of the scheme – Health and Safety issues have played a big part in the siting of the scheme.