Settle Hydro: a fossil free energy boost


Settle Hydro are the first community-funded hydroelectric project in their region. The plant produces enough electricity to power 50 homes.

From idea to conception, Ann Harding, co-founding director of Settle Hydro, describes the journey of the first community-funded hydroelectric project in Settle.

We started with a question: how can we bring more people into Settle and underpin its fragile rural economy?

We wanted to encourage investment into our market town and bolster the local economy. It was also important to empower the community so that residents could take responsibility for their own future. At the time there was a national push for renewable energy and that’s when we came up with the idea of doing something green.

We set up an industrial and provident society for the benefit of the community, with the aim of generating revenue by selling green hydroelectricity to the National Grid. Using the technology of a reverse Archimedean screw at Settle Weir, we’ve been able to achieve this. In addition, our local community’s successful delivery of an energy project has stimulated investment into other local community projects, including the regeneration of a local theatre which, as a result, is no longer tied to grant funding.

We used three loans from Charity Bank to achieve our vision and today I can proudly say that we are the first community-funded hydroelectric project in the region. The 50kW plant produces enough electricity to power 50 homes. Not only that, it has attracted many tourists and visitors to the town, bolstering business for local B&Bs, pubs and restaurants.

The success of the project has gained us credibility and we’re attracting a lot of interest from others who want to know how they can do the same within their own communities.

"Today I can proudly say that we are the first community-funded hydro-electric project in the region."

- Ann Harding, co-founding director, Settle Hydro

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