Greener Leith is pleased to announce that Community Energy Scotland have awarded funding to support a coalition of Edinburgh based community groups, including Greener Leith, to conduct detailed feasibility studies on developing hydro electricity generation on four sites along the Water of Leith.
The Redbraes weir was identified by previous research commissioned by the City of Edinburgh council, as one of 15 sites along the river, where microhydro may be feasible. This study suggested that a ‘reverse archimedes screw’ might be the best way to generate power from the Redbraes weir. This would be similar (but smaller) to the one in this video clip below, on the River Dart in Devon.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bDxfsJPx0w&hl=en&fs=1&]
This latest funding award, worth about £6000 to the Leith area, will see the site assessed to see whether a microhydro scheme would in fact be feasible, both from a practical and financial perspective. It will therefore look at issues like:
- The best technologies to use.
- Who owns the land.
- The impact on wildlife and flooding, and what could be done to reduce this.
- Estimating how much electricity, and money, the installation would generate each year.
- How it would be connected to the national grid and the costs of doing this.
- Installation, insurance and maintenance costs.
Although the site has the lowest capacity of the four sites being assessed in detail, we hope that it will nevertheless prove to be a viable project.
On its own, the project will never power the whole of Leith – but we do hope that it will provide a small income stream from selling renewable energy into the grid. If this is the case, our intention would be to establish a community managed company to invest any income from the project into helping residents nearby to cut their carbon footprint. The project could also play an exciting role as a demonstration and educational resource as well, with a possibility of linking with the Redbraes community garden (where volunteers have just won the ‘Best Community Garden’ award in this years Beautiful Edinburgh in Bloom competition). It would be visible from the public footpaths on the West bank of the river too.
Historically, the Water of Leith has been heavily modified along it’s entire length, and the weirs were originally built to power mills during the industrial revolution. Therefore it seems fitting to try to bring these weirs back into use, providing a clean, green power source for local residents, using the best of modern technology.
If the project is workable, there is in an incredible amount of fundraising, and project development work to do – but at the moment we’re optimistic about working with local residents groups like the Redbraes Residents Association to take the project to the next stage.
The other sites that will be investigated in detail as part of the same funding bid are Harperrig reservoir (Kirknewton Community Development Trust), Harlaw reservoir (Balerno Village Trust), and the larger of the two weirs in Dean village (Dean Village Association).