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April 24, 2013

Urban potential of hydro

For obvious reasons, opportunities to develop urban based wind farms are pretty much non-existent. But many cities have rivers that run through them and in the industrial past these would have been used to drive the mills. Three years ago, some studies were carried out on the Water of Leith in Edinburgh to assess the feasibility of small hydro schemes. One of the sites showed some potential prompting further work by the community. Last week 250 tuned up at the launch of a community share issue.


Urban potential of hydro

The Harlaw Hydro share launch on 9th April, in St Joseph’s Hall, was outstandingly well attended with almost 250 listening to a presentation on the share launch and asking questions of the team afterwards.  The prospectus and forms are available online on Harlaw Hydro’s new web site .  Over time there will also be copies of relevant supporting documents.

Harlaw Hydro Ltd is an Industrial Provident Society created by Balerno Village Trust (BVT) for the express purpose of installing and operating a micro-hydro electricity generator at Harlaw Reservoir.  A great deal of preparatory work has been completed and the project is now ready to move onto the next stage.  If you are interested in what other coops are raising money for look at community shares.

The Water of Leith is a source of green energy right on our doorstep. The river used to power industry inSouth West Edinburgh, and it has been a dream of many to harness this energy for the benefit of the community. The plan is to install a 65Kw turbine at the base of Harlaw Dam and to take advantage of the government’s Feed In Tariffs (FiT) for Renewable Energy to sell power to the National Grid.

Harlaw Hydro (HH) has now achieved several major milestones.

In September 2012 Harlaw Hydro, an Industrial Provident Society (IPS) a co-operative established for community benefit, was incorporated.

In October 2012 SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) granted HH a CAR (Controlled Activities (Scotland) Regulation).

In October 2012 City of Edinburgh approved the planning application.   Full details of the application can be seen on City’s website planning application 12/00001/ful.

The terms of the lease for the site City of Edinburgh have been approved by the Councillors.

There are still several major milestones still to come;

The application for a connection to the national grid has been submitted. Scottish Power Networks response is expected in May.

Raising the capital to purchase and install the equipment will start when the above two items have been secured – target is April 2013.

It will cost an estimated £313K to implement the project. To help finance it, it is hoped that many in the community will purchase shares in Harlaw Hydro  which has been created to own and run the hydro scheme. The more the community invests in the project the less will have to be borrowed from banks, and the sooner profits will be available both to shareholders as yearly interest payments and as grants to improve our community. We hope people will get excited about the project. We also hope people will want to invest in it. Once planning permission is secured we will be issuing a prospectus inviting people to invest in Harlaw Hydro.  If you are interested in receiving a copy of the prospectus, or would simply like to know more, then please contact Martin Petty (


BVT consulted with the City of Edinburgh Council to install a small hydroelectric generator at the outflow of Harlaw reservoir.

2009.  Funding for Feasibility Study Confirmed: Balerno Village Trust (BVT) were pleased to announce that Community Energy Scotland had awarded £6,000 to 5 local communities for a micro-hydro feasibility study on the Water of Leith. This initial pilot study includes Harlaw (through BVT), Redbraes (through Greener Leith), Mossy Mill (CEC), Harperig (through Kirknewton Development Trust) and Dean Village.

These 5 sites were analysed for their generation potential but at this stage only the Harlaw site was deemed to be commercially viable.  The turbine will not power Balerno but it should provide a small income by selling green energy to the Grid that can then be invested in further community developments.

The project could also play an exciting role as a demonstration and educational resource for local schools and colleges and the general public. Historically the Water of Leith has been used to power mills built during the Industrial Revolution. It thus seems fitting to re-harness that power potential to provide valuable green energy today.