An update on the Jordan Dam Hydro scheme

Jordan Dam

The Jordan Dam Hydro project has met two significant obstacles.

  1. The tender prices we received for the project were higher than we could afford. Based on a feasibility study and pre-tender information along with the experience of our volunteers, we estimated a tender price of £650-£750k. The Board was confident that the Business Case could support prices up to £750k. The lowest tender price received was £850k, although after discussion with the contractor this was reduced to approximately £750k. This reduction was achieved however by placing significantly increased risk on to Sheffield Renewables. The reasons for the cost escalation were primarily price inflation, the discovery of a sewer outflow during pre-tender site investigations and site complications including the removal of contaminated waste.
  2. The Environment Agency very recently increased the requirement for fish passage on the river and we have been unable to agree a process that minimises the risk of further price increases to satisfy requirements.

Sheffield Renewables’ Board, being very aware that we are holding in trust a significant amount of people’s money, took the difficult decision to recommend suspending work on Jordan Dam. Building hydro projects entails significant risk and managing those risks has always been a core element to the ethos of Sheffield Renewables. Significant further expenditure would be required to get certainty about the price and final viability of the scheme. Even with the immediate resolution of the above issues, it is believed that it will take at least 6-9 months before the scheme would be ready to proceed.

The decision to recommend suspending work on the project has been a difficult one, particularly after all the hard work which has gone in over the last five years. If Jordan Dam Hydro does become viable in the future, we would still hope to go ahead.

We would like to thank Yorkshire Water, the Canal and Rivers Trust, Sheffield City Council and Co-operatives UK for their support in developing Jordan Dam Hydro.

Community Solar PV

As an alternative to Jordan Dam the board has recommended focussing on installing medium scale solar PV projects (Approx. 30-50kW). This has been decided as the most viable option for the short term future of Sheffield Renewables due to:

  • Predictable capital costs and performance
  • Short lead-times
  • Ease of replication
  • Attractive rate of return

Over the last six weeks we have been developing plans for a series of PV projects on community buildings around the city. With the help of community energy groups who are running PV schemes we have started to draw up a new business plan. Alongside this we are making contact with local organisations to create a pipeline of potential sites.

Special General Meeting

We held a special General meeting on 26th March to ask our members for their approval to focus on Solar PV installations and suspend work on our Jordan Dam Hydro scheme. 54 Members attended and 54 members voted by email. The motion to suspend the development of Jordan Dam and make the development of a series of solar schemes a priority was passed by a majority of those present and those who voted by email.

Next Steps

As our proposal has been agreed at the SGM, we will now move on to complete work on our new Business Plan. We will then issue a new Share Offer document. Our target is to issue this document in June.

Business plan/case

The next step will be to present a business case for the solar PV project to our members. The business case will present a full financial model, along with a detailed risk analysis. This will be ready by June. At this point all members will have the opportunity to withdraw their investment if they wish to do so.

Sheffield Renewables would like to thank all of our volunteers, members and supporters for their hard work and support over the last few years and we hope that you will continue to support us.