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Originally posted on 8 November 2009

At first glance it might be hard to spot a connection between Sheffield Renewables [1], a football club, private day care nursery and grocery shop but all are being supported by the Community Shares [2] project due to their community-owned enterprise success. Sheffield Renewables has been awarded one of five places in a new research project looking to showcase ways in which members of communities can work together to finance setting up and running co-operative businesses.

The government funded research will be carried out by Community Shares over the next year during which time Sheffield Renewables will receive financial advice and training worth about £5,000. In return Sheffield Renewables will share information on the activities it undertakes, including any hurdles it faces, to launch its first share offer and develop Sheffield’s first community-owned renewable energy generation scheme. The results will enable researchers to highlight best practice and also help them to identify barriers to the development of community-owned enterprises along with how they can be overcome.

Mark Wells, Sheffield Renewables Director said “The support from Community Shares is an excellent opportunity for Sheffield Renewables to share best practice and learn from other cooperative businesses to ensure we provide a sound ethical investment opportunity for people in Sheffield.”

Community Shares, the organisation carrying out the research, has supported two renewable energy schemes in the past. Yet Sheffield Renewables is unique in being the first community funded renewable energy generation project in the UK to target it’s share offer and scheme locations in and around the boundaries of a city.

Ed Mayo, Secretary General CooperativesUK said “Sheffield Renewables demonstrates co-operatives’ continued commitment to renewable forms of energy. I think other communities will want to follow their example.”

Hugh Rolo, Head of Assets and Investment at the DTA said “The inclusion of two hydro schemes in round 2 demonstrates that local communities are using community shares to establish vital and preferred sources of renewable energy.”

Ends

Notes

[1] Sheffield Renewables was formed by a group of volunteers in late 2007. We are committed to improving Sheffield’s environmental sustainability. We aim to harness local enthusiasm, knowledge and skills, in creating an energetic and committed social enterprise, which develops, owns and operates renewable energy schemes.

Our schemes will contribute to city wide efforts to meet targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and for increasing local renewable energy provision. We will reinforce these direct carbon savings through local outreach, communications and education. Our work also helps to strengthen social cohesion and community resilience by encouraging people to work together and share a common purpose, and also by developing community owned assets.

In persuing our aims we work across the city for the benefit of everyone, while giving an additional focus to those areas close to our project sites.

[2] Community Shares is an action learning research project for Communities and Local Government (CLG), finded by the Office of the Third Sector (OTS). Is is delivered in partnership by the Development Trusts Association (DTA) and Co-operativesUK. The research, which started earlier this year, is examining the potential of community shares and bonds as a way to attract extra investment. For further information see the Community Shares Press Release and Guardian article on Round Two of the Community Shares Research.

[3] Sheffield Renewables is working to develop two community owned hydro electric generation schemes on the River Don in Sheffield. Both projects are in the feasibility stage.

At Jordan Dam, on the River Don near the eastern edge of Sheffield, we plan to install a hydro electric generating system rated between 100 and 130 kW. Flow data indicate that this installation will produce around 400MWh of electricity per year. Over 20 years of operation, the scheme is projected to save the emission of 4200 tonnes of carbon dioxide (using a conversion factor of 0.537 tonnes of carbon dioxide/MWh), with the potential to operate over a much longer lifespan. The total capital cost for the project is estimated at £400k-£520k, based on a pre-feasibility surver of the site by MannPower consultancy. A further Press Release announcing progress on this project is due to be released later in November 2009.

At Kelham Island, adjacent to Kelham Island Industrial Museum, Sheffield Renewables is working, in partnership with Sheffield City Council and Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust, on reinstalling a waterwheel that once operated at Kelham Island. It will be powered by water diverted from the River Don. Much of the infrastructure for a waterwheel remains intact, including the weir, goits and wheel pit. The new waterwheel would generate electricity rather than the manual power to drive machinery that it powered in the past. A full feasibility study has been carried out by Pico Hydro on behalf of Sheffield City Council. The rated power of the installation would be 20-25kW and the flow data indicate the scheme could generate up to 90MWh of electrical power per year. The Kelham Island Industrial Museum is a very popular attraction in a central location so it provides an excellent high profile site for this project.

Our intention is to fund our projects entirely or in part by offering shares to local people. We are aiming to issue our first major share offer during 2010.

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