Generating community-owned clean energy on the River Calder

whalley hydro header

Ribble Valley members of Transition Town Clitheroe aim to develop greater community resilience to cope with reduced future availability of fossil fuels and adapting to climate change. They floated a community share offer in 2013 to raise money to generate community-owned clean energy on the River Calder. This will repay their initial loan from the Charity Bank.

The Whalley Community Hydro co-operative now has a 99year access agreement to the 600 year old weir at Whalley which diverted water to the abbey since the fifteenth century, powering a corn mill in later years.

whalley hydro power

In September 2014, the 100kW micro hydroelectric generating plant on the south side of the River Calder at Whalley, Lancashire, was installed. It began to generate green renewable energy supplied to the national grid. Income will be used to improve energy security locally by investing in renewables and reducing carbon emissions.

The principal contractor, Spaans Babcock in Heywood, worked with civil engineers William Pye of Longridge. Their designers specified a variable speed fish-friendly Archimedes screw pump which allows migrating fish to reach breeding waters beyond the weir. Salmon, sea trout, brown trout, chub and young eels have returned to the Calder after a hundred years of industrial pollution.

whalley hydro screw in transit

The screw was built at Spaans Babcock’s North Netherlands plant in Balk and delivered by a Dutch lorry driver to the river bank on south side of the Calder.

This winter the hydroelectric plant will produce electric power for a hundred homes and is expected to generate up to 345,000kWh of renewable energy each year, earning money for the shareholders of the co-operative.