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By Dhriti Dawda.

Reading Hydro update –

It has been a busy year for Reading Hydro CBS, the Community Benefit Society that has been set up to build a hydro electric plant north of Caversham Weir.   The twin Archimedean Screw system will generate 320,000 kWh of electricity per year, which is the equivalent of 90 homes at average consumption.

Our share raise, with a target of £700,000, ran from 30th December 2019 to 14th February 2020 and we were thrilled with the response, which attracted a total of £872,000.  We are very grateful to those applicants who have supported us so strongly.

Achieving the target meant that we could get further into the detail of the design and construction.  As we informed our members at the end of March, this has revealed that the project will cost more than the original budget and the directors are working hard on “value engineering” to bring the cost to the lowest possible level.

On May the 15th we secured all the required planning permissions for the final design which means we can now start the construction phase, being very mindful of the working arrangements necessary during the pandemic lockdown.

We have also agreed in principle to supply Thames Lido as our major commercial customer and any excess production will be sold to a wholesale electricity supplier.

The next steps are to fully finalise the project costs and if necessary seek further funds from investors and then issue the shares.  It is still our hope to build the project in 2020 but the pandemic may reduce the availability of contractors.  If this is the case we will delay the construction into 2021 and we will still qualify for the important feed in tariff.

We remain confident the plant will be built and provide zero carbon energy to be used in Reading.

Being sustainable during coronavirus –

With only a few relaxations on lockdown measures recently, there is still an opportunity to take part in sustainable activities.

During these tough times, taking on a new activity can boost mental health. Why not try gardening? A sustainable quarantine activity with delicious vegetables as the end product using compost and garden waste. Some easy to grow produce includes onions, herbs, and tomatoes. See this article on some more ideas.

How about donating food to a foodbank or to Reading’s community fridge. They are open on weekday evenings with social distancing measures. This is a great way to help those who are most affected by this crisis.

Food for thought –  learn from this informative article   on Transition Towns, relocalisation, COVID-19, and the global oil supply. There is high value in effectively and efficiently utilising resources, and how communities can build their resilience to cope with future challenges.

Increase your knowledge on permaculture – try reading one or more of these top 10 permaculture books as recommended by the Permaculture Association.


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