Search on for developers to harness the potential of sustainable hydropower

Posted: Thursday 29th April 2010

The Environment Agency is searching for developers to construct and operate sustainable hydropower schemes on three of its weirs on the River Thames. As well as generating clean, green energy, they will meet the highest environmental standards, protecting and enhancing the local environment.

All 44 weirs on the River Thames were screened for their potential to harness hydropower and the Environment Agency is aware of interest in future hydropower development from developers and community groups at a number of sites.

Bell near Egham, Sunbury and Teddington weirs have been identified by the Environment Agency as sites of high potential for future hydropower development. The principle function of weirs is in controlling water levels for navigation and flood risk purposes, although some could provide opportunities for energy generation.

Hydropower works by using flowing water to drive turbines to generate electricity. The proposal to offer further sites for development follows on from an original Environment Agency pilot project being led by a private developer at Romney Weir in Windsor, which should be operational by the end of the year. The Environment Agency is also working with community groups interested in developing schemes at Osney Weir in Oxford and Goring Weir in south Oxfordshire.

Nationally, the Environment Agency has published a report and maps showing that small-scale hydropower can make a small but useful contribution to the UK’s renewable energy targets. The Environment Agency is working to ensure this happens in a sustainable way, protecting the environment and aquatic life.

Tim Reeder, Environment Agency Thames Region Climate Change Programme Manager, said: “The Environment Agency is keen to ensure hydropower fulfils its potential as a small but useful renewable energy source whilst protecting the environment. We hope that by offering these further sites for development we can facilitate the delivery of a suite of pilot projects within Thames Region from which green electricity will be produced and lessons as to future developments can be learnt.”

Now the Environment Agency Thames Region has identified the preferred sites, an Expression of Interest (EoI) was published on March 10 requiring interested organisations to submit outline proposals for their chosen site/s. It is anticipated that preferred developers will be selected for each site by the end of May.

The Environment Agency has published Good Practice Guidelines for developers, providing guidance for the development of sustainable hydropower schemes ensuring minimal adverse environmental impact. It is also streamlining its permitting process and launched a consultation on Friday March 19 which seeks ways of doing this whilst maintaining the highest possible standards of environmental protection.

Visit or in Welsh at before Friday 11 June to contribute to this consultation.

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