News

Pledge target reached in just 9  days!

16 April 2013

Wow! We’ve hit our pledge target in just 9 days!  Given the phenomenal response to the share offer we are now reassessing our financial model to calculate the potential to accept a greater level of investment.   This would enable us to reduce the level of loans taken out to fund the project.

We currently estimate we expect to increase the amount of investment we can accept, however we want to take advice and will announce our final decision on the website as soon as possible.

Investment reaches £150,000 in first week

15 April 2013

We have been bowled over by the phenomenal interest we have received in the first seven days since the share offer launched. Pledging via the website started within minutes of the offer going live, and has continued steadily ever since – with almost £50,000 pledged via the site on Sunday alone.  Of the £219,00o pledge to date – over £150,000 has been received as applications.

Thank you to everyone for your amazing support of the project.

Planning permission granted

On 31st January 2013 Oxford City Council granted planning permission for the microhydro generator and visitor information centre, subject to various conditions.

Despite WOCoRe’s and their designer’s best efforts, the council Tree Officer decided that the scheme could not go ahead unless the Himalayan Cedar on the site be removed. The reason given is that it is a non-native species, and not a good example of that species in any case. The council are keen to encourage native biodiversity, as are WOCoRe and OLH, and the hydro development team will therefore produce a brief for a landscape designer that has this objective at its heart.

News

  • Oxford Open Door 9th September – book your tour

    We are taking part in Oxford Open Doors this September with a number of guided tours taking place on Saturday 9th September.  Booking essential. Book your tour place

  • Maintenance morning: Sunday 23rd July

    Can you spare an hour or two to help us with a spot of gardening and tidying down at the hydro any time between 10am and 1pm?  If so please get in contact. We have a constant stream of visitors to the site, so any help you can offer in keeping it presentable would be welcome. Please bring along gardening gloves and tools. 

  • 125% of target generation achieved this financial year

    A record breaking quarter has brought our total generation for the 2016-17 financial year to 225,137 kWh – or 125% of our annual target. That’s equivalent to the electricity typically used each year by more than 70 homes.

  • Sandford hydro archimedes screws arrive

    Wonderful to see the archimedes screws arrive downstream for the community-owned hydro being developed at Sandford-on-Thames.  The project will incorporate three screws and will generate a whopping 1600 MWh a year – enough for 450 households. You can also see the moment they first arrived in the village yesterday here You can keep up to date with their progress here.

  • Generation hits 300,000 kWh

    With good generating conditions continuing on the river, we reached the 300,000 kWh generation point just before 9pm tonight. This brings the generation for this current financial year to date to 201,682kWh or 112% of our full 12 months annual target.  Our financial year ends at the end of the month, so we hope to continue to see our annual target rise over the next few days. Our continued thanks to our team of volunteers who visit the site every day to help keep the trash screen clear of debris. Keeping the mouth of the hydro clear helps ensure a maximum ‘head height’ at the hydro. This refers to the distance the water falls at the site. The larger the distance, the more power is generated. Most of the debris comprises of twigs and leaves. However over the season the team has also fished out a flower pots, a bucket, plastic sheeting and fencing – and a leek.

  • Storm Doris keeps us busy

    Storm Doris has been keeping us busy here at Osney Lock Hydro, filling the river with twigs and leaves which are then finding their way into the trash screen. Throughout the autumn and winter, our team of volunteers visit the hydro daily and remove any debris from the trash screen which prevents items entering into the hydro. Usually this is nothing more than a twig or two, although we’ve also found black sacks, buckets, logs and on one occasion, a leek. However, the recent strong winds have brought down large quantities twigs into the river, and we’ll be working over the weekend to remove the build up and clear the trash screen. Osney Lock Hydro is entirely volunteer run. If you’d like to join our team in a regular, or ad hoc role, do let us know.    

  • Gibbs Crescent explosion

    A large explosion occurred downstream from Osney Lock Hydro yesterday at Gibbs Crescent. The hydro is some way from the site of the blast and our initial inspection has not revealed any damage to the hydro or powerhouse.  Our thoughts are with all those who have been affected by the explosion.

  • Generation target for financial year hit

    We are delighted to be able to report that we reached our annual generation target of 179,000kWh earlier today. With current river conditions, we anticipate generation will continue over the six weeks to financial year-end, increasing our generation total for the year. If you’d like to keep up-to-date with the latest generation figures, then keep your eye on our performance page on the website which we regularly update.

  • Generation round up for Quarters 1 to 3

    We had a great generation first quarter of the financial year (Apr-June) and kept generating until mid-August. We then had a long dry period and did not start generating again until mid-November. September and October were the driest start to Autumn since 1951. We have had a great run over the last few weeks because generating conditions have been just about perfect – just enough rain at just the right intervals to maintain the head around the optimum of 1.7m – with lots of foggy, murky nights to stop the water level falling too fast. The water has also been very clean and clear, so trash screen clearance has been much easier so far this year than it was last year. It would be very good for us if these conditions continued into the New Year and we saved the Atlantic storms until around Easter to give us a good boost of water going into the summer period. Unlikely – but we can hope! Generation is now at 124,513kWh this financial year or 66% of total forecast average for the whole year.

  • Generation hits 200,000 kWh

    The recent rains mark the start of our winter generation period.  As a result we have just reached the 200,000 kWh generation mark.

  • Open meeting 12th October

    Osney Lock Hydro – Harnessing the power of our river We will be giving a talk about the hydro at Low Carbon West Oxford’s next open meeting and do hope you can join us. Weds 12 October, 7.30pm at West Oxford Community Primary School (Canteen) Come and find out how West Oxford has become home to the first community- owned and volunteer-run hydro scheme on the Thames! Hear the story of its creation, learn about its day-to-day management and how you can get involved in its future. Speakers from the Directors of Osney Lock Hydro and the Environment Agency.

  • Oxford Open Doors success

    We were delighted to open our doors to visitors as part of the Oxford Open Doors and Community Energy Fortnight events last Sunday.  All the tours were fully booked and it was great to see such enthusiasm for the project, and hear your questions.  

  • Hydro tours 11th September

    To celebrate Community Energy Fortnight and Oxford Open Doors we will be running guided tours on the afternoon of Sunday 11th September. Tickets are free but booking is essential.  You can book on line here    

  • Generation results for first quarter of financial year

    It has been an excellent few months for generation at Osney Lock Hydro, with 82,549 kWh electricity generated over the first three months of our financial year, equating to 46% of our annual mid-range target. Because of variability in river flows year on year, our estimated annual output is modelled using several years of flow data. In any one year, generation can be expected to fall within a range between 50% and 150% of the target figure.  Last year we achieved 80% of the 179,000kWh target. The rain may has made for a dismal start to the summer, but has enabled us to generated far longer into summer season than last year’s dry conditions. Generation is likely to slow down as river flows drop, however with current river conditions we still anticipate generation to continue for some time.    

  • Green Magical Mystery Tour this Thursday

    Osney Lock Hydro is the starting point for a for a magical tour around Oxfordshire to explore some of the County’s green energy gems. We’ll be unlocking the mystery behind what happens to our food waste and peeking inside the the first community owned hydro scheme on the Thames. We’ll also explore the UK’s largest community owned solar park and first community owned wind farm in the South of England. The tour starts and ends at Osney Island, Oxford and includes free transport thanks to the generous support of Oxford Bus Company. Places are free but with limited places booking is essential.  You can book your place here Green Magical Mystery Tour tickets

  • Generation latest – April & May

    The last two months have seen excellent generating conditions. By 1st June we had already reached our previous quarter record of 54303kWh.  We are currently still generating, but  expect generation to tail off as we move into the summer and river flow drops.  

  • Celebrating our first year of generation

    The first full year of generation at Osney Lock Hydro has come a close with a total generation of 143,365kWh of green electricity being generated.  The excellent generating conditions in recent weeks have gone some way to compensate for last year’s extremely dry summer, helping us reach 80% of an ‘average year’ forecast. Generation from hydro is expected to fluctuate year on year in response to local river conditions.  This is why we used several years of river flow data when modelling our expected generation targets, and work to a range of generation, and to a long term financial model, and expect the good and bad years to average out in the long term. After this first year of operation, we will revert to report annual generation in alignment with our financial year (April to March).  Since 1st April 2016 we have generated 45,057 kWh, around a quarter of our annual target,  As we move into summer we expect generation to slow down as river flow drops, then picking back up in the autumn as we head into the main generating period.

  • Meet the team

    We were delighted to welcome Members and local residents along to our ‘Meet the Team’ event last night.  We really enjoyed answering your questions about the hydro and sharing our latest generation figures and plans. If you weren’t able to join us and have any questions for the team, do contact us via the ‘contact us’ page on the website.

  • Join our gardening party Sunday 22 May

    Are you free to join us on the morning of Sunday 22nd May to help with weeding the hedge at Osney Lock Hydro? We’ll be down on the site from 10.30am and would welcome any time you can spare to help us. Please let us know if you are able to lend a hand via the contacts page, and bring some gardening gloves with you on the day. Even if you can only spare half an hour that would be extremely welcome.

  • West Oxford awarded Certificate of Honour

    Congratulations to the residents of West Oxford who have been awarded a Certificate of Honour for their effort and achievements in reducing the community’s carbon emissions to combat climate change over the last eight years. The certificate was presented by Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Tim Stevenson, during a special ceremony on Monday 9 May 2016 at Oxford Town Hall. It was one of ten Certificates awarded by the Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire and the Lord Mayor of Oxford, Councillor Rae Humberstone, as part of a special ceremony recognising ten volunteers for their dedication and exceptional service to others in a local community in Oxford. The nominations were considered by a panel of independent judges, the Lord Mayor of Oxford Councillor, Rae Humberstone and Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, Tim Stevenson.  We believe this is the first time that a Certificate has been awarded to an entire community and is a marvellous testament to the pioneering work of West Oxford, which has involved so many people in the community.

  • April showers keep generation levels high

    April was a really good month for output with average output at over 40kW,   At the end of March our total generation was  just short of 100,000kWh. One month on and we are just short of 130,000kWh. We’ve been delighted to have several groups visit the hydro for guided tours this month, including two groups from Oxford Civic Society.  Our Director Saskya Huggins was particularly delighted to welcome one very special visitor to the site, Miss Fisher, the midwife who brought her into the world.

  • A million thanks

    Thanks to the hydro’s recent high output, we’ve reached a huge milestone in community renewable energy in West Oxford – the generation of the one millionth unit of green electricity from community owned renewables. We’ve come a long way  since the very first installation in 2009 by West Oxford Community Renewables – an 11kWp array on the Kings Centre. We’d like to say a special thank you to the many organisations and individuals in West Oxford and beyond, without whom this would not have been possible. Thank you times a million!  Although we’ve been operating for less than a year, Osney Lock Hydro has played a significant role in this achievement.  These last few weeks have seen some very good generating conditions on the river with the total output double in just two months. Indeed we reached our own milestone, with the 100,000 kWh mark been reached in the last few days.  The graph below shows the fluctuation in generation, in response to changing river conditions.  The low initial output being a result of the very dry summer, whereas the winter rains have resulted in periods of high day output. Over the past seven years, WOCORE and Osney Lock Hydro have installed over 200kWp of solar across West Oxford, as well as the hydro and a small wind turbine at Hogacre Ecopark. In addition, West Oxford […]

  • Celebrating Science Week

    Members of the Osney Lock Hydro team have been visiting local primary schools to talk about the project and run workshops on electricity generation as part of science week. Students at St Ebbes Primary School helped Director Ali Lloyd calculate the power generated by the hydro.   Over at North Hinksey Primary, Saskya Huggins joined forces with Alison Grunewald from Westmill Wind and Solar Park to run workshops about renewable energy generation. We have plans to develop teaching materials, so teachers can use the hydro as a teaching resource for key curricular subjects.  Unfortunately we are currently unable to  accommodate school visits on-site but hope to do so once the final phase of landscaping is completed. We also have plans to develop teaching resources to support several key elements of the primary school curriculum.

  • Month end generation for February

    The heavy rains this month has given us a fast flowing river, but increased the height of the weir pool at the bottom of the hydro, and so reducing the hydro head height. Overall, we’ve seen decent results, with more than 16,000 kWh being generated this month, bringing total generation to 73,805kWh by the end of month.

  • 60,000 kWh mark reached

    The last few days have seen good flow conditions on the river, and total generation reached the 60,000kWh mark this morning.

  • Generation hits 50,000 kWh mark in January

    We’ve seen steady generation throughout January, with the total generation hitting 57,000kWh by the end of the month. River conditions have seen the river on ‘red’ with the increased water in the river system, resulting in a decreased drop of head height at the hydro.   The effect of the high flow has sadly been all too apparent just upstream at the Botley Road bridge, where two boats slipped their moorings yesterday.  You can read more about the incident here. The hydro was temporarily stopped while the Environment Agency temporarily lowered the levels of the river on the Osney stretch in response to the incident.

  • Osney Lock Hydro takes to the boards

    We were thrilled to see Osney Lock Hydro featured in this year’s local pantomine.  This beautiful barge formed part of the magnificent set for this year’s West Oxford Pantomime Association’s production of Dick Wellington.

  • New Year update from the river bank

    After a long dry summer, with rain fall well below average, we started the New Year with Osney on flood alert. Although we have been spared the record breaking rainfall experienced by Scotland, Wales and North West England this December, the Environment Agency monitors reflect the recent rains with increased flow and river levels. You can keep an eye on the river levels and flow at our nearby gauging station online. Follow this link for Farmoor flow levels or see below for river levels at Farmoor and Osney Lock. You can also check for flood warnings on the Environment Agency website, which also gives you the option to register to receive free flood alerts. In terms of the hydro, we  continue to be able to abstract water for generation, whenever it is available and Environment Agency is happy for us to do so. As ever, their priority is to manage river flows to enable river navigation and prevent flooding and thanks go to the local Environment Agency team who are working so hard to manage the local waterways. We are currently shut down awaiting a technical inspection, however this is unrelated to the recent flood alert and our team of volunteers remain busy, keeping the trash screen at the front of the hydro channel free of debris.

  • The hydro and waterways management – your questions answered

    We’ve had a number of questions asked by local residents who are interested in understanding what potential impact, if any, the hydro may have on local flooding.  With the help of the Environment Agency, we have put together the following information which we hope will reassure our neighbours, and help shed light on how local waterways are managed. Does the installation of the second hydro at Osney Lock increase the risk of flooding? No. The hydro required the Environment Agency’s permission to operate. This would not have been granted if the hydro posed any additional risk to flooding.  The Environment Agency (EA) was closely involved in the project throughout the design and construction phase, and has worked closely with the hydro team to integrate the scheme into its waterways management systems. Has the installation of the hydro resulted in a narrowing of the channel or reduction in flow capacity? No. The width of new weir B (the weir situated in the same channel as the hydro) is the same width as the original weir gate. The channel was widened to accommodate the hydro. There is no reduction in flow capacity through the weir. The addition of the hydro and fish pass, along with the change in design of the weir gate have actually resulted in an increased flow capacity at that point.  This is why […]

  • Information about hydro stoppage on 10 December

    We are most upset to learn that misinformation regarding a recent stoppage at Osney Lock Hydro has been circulated to local residents. We would like to reassure residents that the hydro poses no additional risk to flooding, and that our operation is fully integrated into the local waterways management system. On the evening of Thursday 10 December Osney Lock Hydro stopped generating because of a fault with a component called an encoder.  This was fixed the next day and we are now operating as normal. Under the condition of our abstraction licence we are able to divert up to 4 cubic meters per second of flow through the hydro.  This represents around 10% of the flow through the adjacent weir. When we don’t operate this water continues to flow through the main channel, and over weirs A, B and C depending on the total flow being passed down the river system. We notified the Environment Agency of the fact that we were not operating. As a result they decided to increase the flow over Weir B as part of their fine tuning of the local flow management.  During the time we ceased to operate, an increase in river level was recorded. The fluctuation was insufficient to trigger the EA’s early warning system. Fluctuations in river level are caused by many factors […]

  • 30,000kWh and counting

    We are delighted to report that generation continues to be going on apace with power production reaching 30,000kWh at the weekend. Daily generation fluctuates as river flows vary.  We have also experienced that the build up of debris on the trash screen can reduce flow and therefore power output.  Many thanks to our team of volunteers who are making daily trips to the site to keep the trash screen clear.  As well as leaves and twigs, their haul has also included a bucket and several plastic bags. When we are operating at full throttle, we are topping 1000 kWh in a day – enough to make 50,000 cups of tea.      

  • Viewing window installed

    More work down at the riverbank this week to report – with the installation of the viewing window.  This brings us a step nearer to being able to open to site up for visitors.  After careful consultation with local residents, potential visitors and other key stakeholders, we would like to trial opening the site to visitors during daylight hours.  however, we still need to raise the final funding needed to finish the balustrading and hard landscaping before this will be possible. This week has also seen the hydro really beginning to be put through its paces.  With several days of decent generation now under our belts, including some prolonged periods at peak generation, we hit the 10,000 kWh generation mark this week.      

  • Hedge planting on site

    On Sunday 8th November a team of local volunteers made short work of planting hedging plants along the boundary of the site.  The plants were donated by the Woodland Trust as part of The First World War Centenary Woods project to plant millions of native trees to commemorate the First World War. The hedge is the first stage in our planting plans to boost local biodiversity with the addition of native planting.  The hedge includes a mix of Hawthorn, Hazel, Holly, Dog Rose and Dogwood.  Many thanks to everyone who helped with the planting.

  • It’s raining – we’re generating!

    A quick post to share the great news that the recent rains have done their job and the hydro is generating. With impeccable timing the screw started turning yesterday afternoon,  just in time for the pre-AGM tours. Generation is dependent on river flow at Osney, which in turn depends on rain fall in the Thames catchment areas upstream.  During summer months, the combination of a lower water table and the impact of growing plants sucking up water, means less rain makes it through into the rivers.  As we enter into Autumn, we would expect to see a higher proportion of rain running off and into the rivers. You can keep an eye on the river levels and flow at our nearby gauging station online. Follow this link for Farmoor flow levels or see below for river levels at Farmoor and Osney Lock.

  • It’s Community Energy Fortnight

    5th September sees the start of the third Community Energy Fortnight.  There are a range of great events happening up and down the country.  You can find out more on their website. There are range of inspiring events – from seeing inside a wind turbine, building your own solar panel, to a tour of our very own Osney Lock Hydro. Please note our hydro tours are now all full, but we plan to hold more in the future. Please contact us to let us know if you’d like to know about future dates.    

  • Oxford Open Doors – hydro tours

    UPDATE: The tours are now all full.  We hope to hold more tours in the future. Please contact us to let us know if you’d like to know about future tour dates.   This September we’ll be taking part in Oxford Open Doors – a  weekend when we celebrate Oxford and all that makes it special – its places, spaces and most of all its communities. As part of the celebrations we’ll be running guided tours of the hydro on Saturday 12th September.  Booking is essential, you can book yours via the Oxford Open Doors website – but you’ll have to be quick as places are limited.  

  • AGM – Save the date

    This year’s AGM will be taking place in West Oxford on Tuesday 6th October 6-8pm.  We’ll also be offering Members attending the AGM the opportunity to have a guided tour of the hydro beforehand.   Please save the date, and watch out for an email with further details in September.    

  • EIS Certificates dispatched

    We’re very pleased to announce that the EIS3 certificates – which enable eligible investors to claim their 30% tax relief – have been completed and dispatched today, 10th July. Those for investors in West Oxford have been delivered by hand and the others have been mailed second-class. Guidance on claiming tax relief is enclosed in the envelope, distinguishing the procedure for original 2013 investors and that for those who invested in the second, 2014 share issue. If you have not received your certificate by 15th July, please contact ruth@osneylockhydro.org.uk .    

  • Generating enthusiasm

    We’ve been delighted by the enthusiastic response to the news that the hydro is now operational with many requests for visits from local residents, council groups and other community groups interested in setting up their own community owned hydro schemes. Our only disappointment is that visitors are currently unable to see the screw turning as river flows are such that we are rarely generating.  The summer time is always expected to be a low generation time for river hydro, with peak generation expected in winter.  This is one reason why it is a such a good complementary technology to solar whose peak generation is summer time. As well as having less rain fall, the river flow is affected by the fact that trees are in leaf, so take up more of the water in the soil, so less reaches the rivers. This seasonal variation is built into our business model, which uses several years of flow data to predict overall annual generation levels.  During project development we also took the decision to switch to a variable speed screw (from the fixed speed screw in the original plans) which will enable us to operate more efficiently during times of lower flow.  We are currently exploring how we can give real time data about generation levels on the website so people can see when we […]

  • Weir gate noise

    We have been working with residents living very close to the hydro to help identify the source of disruptive noise and vibrations which they have been experiencing in their homes recently. These have been traced back to the new weir B gate, which forms part of the new weir complex near Osney Lock. The Environment Agency have been made aware of this disturbance and have pinpointed the issue to a leaking gate side seal. They are now working with the manufacturers to find a permanent fix. We are most grateful to local residents for contacting us so quickly and for working with us to find the source of the disturbance. We hope a permanent solution is found quickly.

  • Up and running

    Great news from the river bank – we have started generating in earnest! With all the various tests successfully completed the hydro was ready to start generating, and with the recent rain, last Friday there was enough water in the river for the hydro to start running. The summer time is traditionally a time of lower generation because of lower river flow.  Peak generation time times to be in the winter when flow rates are higher. Its the opposite to solar panels which have their highest generation times during the long summer days and generate less during the darker winter months. Our performance modelling are based on averages over five years of actual measured flow data so take these seasonal, as well as annual, fluctuations into account. However, it would still be great to see some good generation over these first few months.    

  • Final testing underway

    Today marks another important day down at the river bank – the start of the final testing phase for the hydro. The hydro plant was technically commissioned on 30th January but that wasn’t the end of the story for the development work. A further phase of telecommunications installation and lock-keeper training then had to begin. A ground-breaking telemetry link bringing together Environment Agency flow data, local water level data and operations data from both Osney Lock and Osney Mill hydro plants had to be put in and tested. This is a first in the UK and will benefit both the lock-keepers and the hydro plants. It will allow the hydro plants to operate to their optimum by constantly monitoring levels and flows. The lock-keepers can view live flow data to assist them with managing safety on the navigation. The lock-keepers can also switch the hydro plants to operate at a lower water level to assist with navigation on the River Thames. Lock-keepers both downstream at Iffley Lock and upstream at Godstow Lock will also be given access to the data, so that they can benefit as well by seeing exactly what is happening at Osney Lock and being able to manage their locks accordingly. This final testing phase will allow the lock-keepers to work with the new system for a […]

  • University support of OLH featured in new film

    Last summer we were thrilled to be awarded a grant by the University of Oxford Small Community Grants Scheme to enable us to carry out audience research and interpretation plan for development for the public open space.  A short film featuring three of the projects the fund has supported – including OLH – has just been release.  You can watch it for yourself here Oxford community grants video

  • Osney Lock Hydro on BBC Inside out

    Osney Lock Hydro will be featured on this Monday’s Inside Out (South) on BBC 1 at 7.30pm.   Local wind farm Westmill will also ‘star’ in this article on community energy.  Missed, it?  You can catch in on the BBC iplayer here.

  • And we’re off!

    Our GE59 test was carried out this morning, and following a satisfactory test of the generating equipment, the hydro has been officially commissioned – the executive team celebrated with much needed hot chocolate after a chilly on-site orientation session this lunchtime. There are still final bits of work to do before we get fully operational, so the team will be back on site on Monday to finish the works on the communication systems between the hydro, the weirs and Osney Mill hydro, needed to co-ordinate the flow of water between them. The hydro then needs to be run it, so don’t be surprised if you pass the site and the screw isn’t turning, or turning slowly  This is all part of the process of getting it fully up and running. Work will also continue on site on other elements of the project.  The Clear solar PV roof will be installed mid-February.  We then need to landscape the site, which will remain closed to the public until we have raised the funds for the River Bank project – but the hydro is still visible from the tow path so do please come and visit.    

  • Commissioning underway

    Commissioning of the hydro is now underway.  Mann power are on site to test the wiring, check over the mechanics and programme the control panel. If you are passing by on the towpath you may occasionally see the screw turning as part of the process. Once commissioning is finished, the next step is for Scottish and Southern Electric for formal electrical testing to pass it for full electrical generation.  We’ll keep posting more news on the website on our progress.

  • Switch on tantalisingly close

    We are just days away from generating electricity at Osney Lock Hydro. The powerhouse is built, and now we are on to the final bits of electrical works and testing phase.  This will include testing the control panels, communications between the hydro and the new weirs, mechanics and overall electrics. The final test, the G59 test, will then be carried out by a Scottish and Southern Engineer, to confirm we are fit to operate.We can then be issued with our MSC certificate, enabling us to finish our Feed in Tariff registration. We had hoped to be generating by the end of last month, however we needed to reschedule a couple of final activities we’d hoped to run in parallel to running in sequence for health and safety reasons.   So although the speed of progress is not as fast as hoped, rest assured, progress is being made, and we are tantalisingly close to generation – watch this space!  

  • Barbara Hammond recognised in 2015 New Years Honours list

    It was great to see champions of community energy recognised not once, but twice, in the recent New Year’s Honours list. Osney Lock Hydro’s very own Barbara Hammond, has just been made an MBE for services to the development of community energy especially in Oxfordshire. Peter Capener, cofounder and Chair of Bath and West Community Energy was also recognised with an MBE for his work in the sector. Congratulations to them both, and thank you for your years of dedication and hard work on behalf of community energy.      

  • Latest construction news

    Powerhouse construction on track We are now quite a long way through the Turbine House build and expect it to finish in the next couple of weeks.Once this is completed, the next task is to put in the electrics. Solar PV roof As well as generating electricity from the hydro, we’ll also be building Solar PV panels into the roof of the powerhouse to maximise the generation potential of the site. Some of these will be innovative transparent panels, which will enable natural light to come through into the powerhouse. Once these are in place, we will be able to remove the scaffolding. Generation on schedule to start this year We are having to work sequentially because of the need for scaffolding and to make sure different sets of contractors don’t get mixed up with each other! However, we are currently well on schedule for this phase, and if all continues to go to plan, we hope to be able to commission the hydro and start generating before Christmas.

  • Halloween treat!

    We’re delighted to announce that the lease for the hydro site was finally signed by the Environment Agency, and Barbara and Saskya on behalf of Osney Lock Hydro on the 31st October.

  • OLH featured on BBC’s Costing The Earth

    Osney Lock Hydro is featured in this week’s episode of Costing the Earth on BBC Radio 4 in a programme focusing on the role of community energy. Barbara Hammond shares our 12 year journey from concept to construction.  She  gives a flavour of some of the many challenges we’ve faced along the way, and the crucial role community support has played in the project. ‘Power to the people’ was first broadcast on wednesday 24 September and is available as a podcast.   You can listen again from the BBC website here

  • Please take part in our survey

    Osney Lock Hydro is the first community-owned hydro electricity scheme to be built on the Thames. Built next to Osney Lock in the heart of Oxford, the scheme will start generating clean, green electricity this Autumn. As well as generating renewable energy, the Osney Lock Hydro (OLH) project is planning some exciting new things for the local community and wider public to enjoy, and we’d like to find out what you think. Over 70 people participated in the survey at our Open Doors Event earlier this month – and now you can take part on line by following this link. It takes just a couple of minutes and will prove invaluable in helping us develop our plans and funding proposals.   Thank you!  To the survey…. Thank you to the many towpath and river users take part in our survey at our Open Doors event earlier in September.

  • Powerhouse construction underway

    After a lull over the summer months, the next phase of work is underway at Osney Lock Hydro.   The delay has been due to it taking longer than expected to finalise the terms of the lease for the site, rather than any issue with the installation of the screw. Rumours of the archimedean screw being put in back to front made for a better story, but we are happy to report are unfounded! The focus of this phase is to get the powerhouse built and commission the hydro scheme so we can start generating clean, green electricity A steel framed powerhouse is being constructed, using solar panels for a roof, to maximise generation capacity at the site.  The middle section of the roof will feature PV cells set in transparent laminate, allowing natural light into the powerhouse. At the same time, we’ll be putting the brushes into the fish pass, so fish can start to use the channel to swim upstream – the first time the weir has been passable to fish for two hundred years. The final piece of the jigsaw is to put in place all the necessary wiring and electrical works to enable us to start generating.    All being well, we hope to be up and running later this autumn. As ever, thank you to our Bridge […]

  • Osney Lock Hydro participating in Oxford Open Doors

    Oxford Open Doors If you would like to learn more about the project and meet some of the volunteer team who have been working behind the scenes you might like to know we are taking part in Oxford Open Doors. As the site itself is not open we’ll be based in the Mary Town Room at West Oxford Community Centre between 2 and 4pm on Sunday 14th September.  We’d delighted to see you. We’ll also be using the opportunity to survey visitors to the site to find out more about what people would like to see at the side as part of the broader river bank project. As well as generating green energy and income for our community, we’d love the hydro scheme to become a platform from which to tell the story of our river.  We would like local people visiting the site to learn about our community’s centuries old relationship with the Thames, and be inspired by our vision for a more sustainable future. Ideas include a social history project, asking local residents to share their memories of growing up on Osney Island, and developing self-guided walks to enable people to explore the rich industrial heritage of the area. We are thrilled to have been awarded a grant by the University of Oxford Small Community Grants Scheme to […]

  • Our first AGM

    Held on the 4th June in the Boiler Room at the Old Jam Factory, our first ever Annual General Meeting was attended by more than 50 members. As part of our rules, a third of directors need to stand down each year, and the Board decided to do this alphabetically.  As a result Ruth Finar and Barbara Hammond stood down.  The rest of the Board were relieved that they both agreed to stand for re-election and they were both duly unanimously re-elected. The meeting also provided Members with the opportunity to learn more about the delay to the completion of construction, which is primarily due to difficulties in agreeing a key term in the lease of the Environment Agency land. The latest on this is that the Directors believe the problems have been resolved and the lease should be signed very shortly. The meeting was followed by drinks, which was a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know our investors better – thank you to everyone who was able to join us.

  • A Very Special Delivery

    It’s here!  On Tuesday 25th March the screw was delivered from the Netherlands.  We held our breath as the 4.35m screw was lowered into place,  and at midday, the 4.35m-long, four-bladed Archimedean screw was installed. Despite being officially on holiday, we were delighted that Steve Naylor from the Environment Agency was there on the day and captured the event on film.  Many thanks to Steve for letting us share the footage on-line.

  • Please help us better understand attitudes towards hydro power.

    Tom Cosford, a final year student studying Geography at Oxford Brookes University, is currently writing a dissertation on the possible ecological consequences of small-scale hydropower schemes such as the one at Osney Lock, specifically the possible effects on fish.  He is particularly interested in learning about different views on this issue.  He has has prepared a very short questionnaire and would greatly appreciate if you could take the time to answer it. Your views are a vital part of his research, and will help us better understand different groups’ perceptions of hydro power. The on-line survey only takes a few minutes to complete.  To take part, simply follow this link.  To the survey.

  • Developing plans for the new public space at our site

    Not content with generating green electricity, and income for local environmental projects, the OLH team are also keen for the hydro scheme to become a platform from which to tell the story of our river.  We would like local people visiting the site to learn about our community’s centuries old relationship with the Thames, and be inspired by our vision for a more sustainable future. The proposal is to open the island up to visitors and enable them to: Gain direct access to the hydro scheme and experience hydro power first hand. Learn about water technologies, local social and industrial history and the natural ecology.  Learn about the potential for a more sustainably powered future Interact with hands-on exhibits that will illustrate how locks and other water management technologies work Inspect historical items such as the 19th century winching mechanism taken from the recently refurbished weir Enjoy a new public space by the Thames footpath that has been designed and planted to encourage enhanced local biodiversity and view fish making use of the new fishpass Explore the river heritage of the wider locality using self-guided walks. The project is still in early stages of development and we’ll need lots of help to plan, fundraising and implement the project.   If you would like to get involved, do please contact us via […]

  • Topping out celebrations!

    Earlier today we celebrated a successful conclusion to the groundbreaking partnership between Osney Lock Hydro and the Environment Agency to  build  the  hydro  base  and the  Weir  B  replacement  structure. The topping out ceremony was led by Howard  Davidson,  South  East  Regional  Director of the Environment  Agency.  He concluded the ceremony by unfurling a banner, aided by representatives of some of the many groups involved in the project to date, including Osney Lock Hydro, Oxford City Council and the local residents, including one of the newest members of our community. You can watch a video of most of Howard Davidson’s speech and the ceremony by clicking here. More than 60 people turned out to watch the riverside ceremony, including local residents, Osney Lock Hydro members, representatives from the many organisations directly involved in the scheme as well as  people from other community owned schemes on the Thames.  Thank you to our contractors, Greenfords for generously treating us all to warming coffee, mulled wine and mince pies at our post ceremony celebrations at the Punter pub. Osney  Lock  Hydro  is  the  first  community-­‐owned  hydro  scheme  to  be  built  on  the Thames.    The  community  of  West  Oxford  has  been  committed  to  seeing  the  project through  since  its  inception  12  years  ago  in  2001.    It  was  pushed  forward  in  June 2012  when  the […]

  • Construction latest

    Osney Lock Hydro civil engineering completed We are pleased to announce that the civil engineering works on Osney Lock Hydro achieved practical completion on Friday 8th November.  Work was just about complete in time for our original target date of 17th October but the final finishing touches had to wait while the Greenford team focused on building the Weir B replacement for the Environment Agency. We have now extended the construction works to build the upper section of the fish pass rather than leaving this until Phase 2 of the scheme. These works should be completed in early December. Environment Agency weir works underway The new Weir B gate is now installed and being tested so that the old Weir B gate can be removed and the coffer dam pulled.  Meanwhile, the Environment Agency has started work on repairs to Weir A and expects to complete its work to replace the footbridge and weir gates in time for Christmas. During this time the contact details for any queries relating to this element of the project are: weirimprovements@environment-agency.gov.uk   If all of these civil engineering elements are completed by the target date of Christmas, it will be a huge achievement and testament to the great working relationship developed between Osney Lock Hydro and the Environment Agency and the dedicated support of the […]

  • Fundraising efforts awarded

    We are delighted that the extraordinary support shown by local people towards the project was recently recognised at the Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA) Awards where we won the fundraising award. The Osney Lock Hydro share offer raised over £500,000 in just four weeks. Without this swift and significant support, the project would not have been able to go ahead.  Over 40% of the investment came from within a mile of the project and 4 out of 5 investors live in Oxfordshire. Read about some of the other fabulous winners here.

  • Now onto the good bit…..

    Hydro base emerging from the river bed; screw on order Great news of the last couple of weeks is that we have stopped digging and started building!  The photographs below show the base for the microhydro growing out of the riverbed and we can already see the distinctive curved end of the Powerhouse beautifully cast in concrete. This means that we are moving swiftly towards the end of the hydro civils with the changeover to the Environment Agency Weir B works taking place seamlessly in the next week or two.  Doing Osney Lock Hydro’s work followed by Environment Agency maintenance and repair to Weirs B and A minimises disruption and means that all the work to the Lock and surrounding weirs is done in one go. We will be able to move on to the most exciting part of the project, to install the generator, early in the New Year.  The Environment Agency will follow on from hydro/Weir B civils to do repairs and replacements to the hand radials at Weir A between mid-October and Christmas. This week we have also placed the order for the Archimedes screw that will generate the power at Osney Lock Hydro.  It takes a minimum of four months’ lead-in time for the order to be built and delivered from Holland. A very good late development […]

  • Revealing the secrets of the river bed

    With the cofferdam in place, water has now been drained from the site of Weir B, so work on the riverbed can commence. The draining of the site also provides a unique opportunity to learn more about its history. A key point of interest is the century old winding gear for the weir. Oxford Archeology have been commissioned to document the findings, and we are investigating how we might combine the old winding gear into our new design as a way of showcasing and preserving this fascinating piece of waterways history. In the meantime, we are hearing reports that our crane is proving of interest to residents of all ages – from young toddlers, to the young at heart. Thank you to David Jeffrey for sharing his photo of the crane at dusk.

  • Building work starts

    Construction of the cofferdam started on Monday 8th July.  In consultation with the Environment Agency, our contractors have slightly modified the design of the cofferdam. As a result the contractor has implemented a special piling head which as enabled them to use a relatively quiet piling technique using a ‘silent hammer’ or vibro-hammer. We have completed the cofferdam using this technique, however for the rest of the piling we may still need to switch to impact piling depending on ground conditions encountered.

  • Construction Work Begins at Osney Lock

    Osney Lock Hydro and the Environment Agency are pleased to announce that the Osney Lock site has now been fully mobilised and so construction work can begin on building the generator base for the Hydro and replacing the Weir B gates. The first element of the work is to build cofferdams to keep the water out of the working area.  These are put in both upstream and downstream of the site and are built by driving interlocking steel sheet piles into the riverbed.  The upstream coffer dam will need to be removed if we have a period of heavy rain to let the floodwaters through the existing Weir B gates. This is normal practice and a flow monitoring and action protocol is in place should river flows increase significantly from normal.

  • Cofferdam construction latest

    We are dismayed to be once again announcing a further week’s delay to the start of pile driving on the site. The delay continues to be due to the finalising of the details relating to the leasing of the site. We had a very constructive meeting with the Environment Agency’s legal team today,  and expect preparatory works to commence next week, with pile driving itself now due to start on Monday 8th July.

  • Cofferdam construction start date

    Cofferdam construction One of the first tasks for the contractors will be to put in a cofferdam, to enable the civil engineering works to take place.  It is anticipated that the pile-driving will take around two weeks (10 working days) at the time of writing is now expected to start the week commencing 1st July. The coffer dam is needed for both the hydro’s civil engineering work and the Environment Agency’s work on Weir B.  The weir at the site of the hydro and this maintenance work has been planned for some time.

  • Site preparation starts

    As part of the preparation of the site, the Himalayan Cedar at Osney Lock was felled today along with a small crab apple tree and some shrubs.  This followed a visit by our ecologist to check the site for nesting birds.  There were no nests in the felled tree, but the sycamore and conifer trees will be left for a further 14 days because they do contain nests.

  • The work begins

    And we’re off! The first consignment of kit arriving on site. We’ll be bringing you regular updates on our progress via the website.  Look out for updates in the news section as well via a new ‘construction’ area which will be going live shortly.

  • Osney Lock Hydro and Fish

    We have been disappointed by recent inaccurate stories in the local press regarding the impact of hydro schemes on fish, for example, a piece in last week’s Oxford Times ‘Anglers warn over Thames hydro-plant threat to fish.’   We have felt particularly dismayed given the care we have taken to fully assess the ecological impact of our scheme and in our choice of hydro technology, and of course this information was included in our application for planning permission.

  • SEIS and EIS advance approval

    30th April HMRC have informed us that on the basis of the information we provided to them they would be able to authorise OLH to issue compliance certificates for SEIS and EIS once we complete the necessary forms.

  • Abstraction licence granted

    We have heard today from the Environment Agency that the Abstraction License has been signed off today.

  • Pledge target reached in just 9 days!

    Wow! We’ve hit our pledge target in just 9 days!  Given the phenomenal response to the share offer we are now reassessing our financial model to calculate the potential to accept a greater level of investment.   This would enable us to reduce the level of loans taken out to fund the project.

  • Investment reaches £150,000 in first week

    Investment reaches £150,000 in first week We have been bowled over by the phenomenal interest we have received in the first seven days since the share offer launched. Pledging via the website started within minutes of the offer going live, and has continued steadily ever since – with almost £50,000 pledged via the site on Sunday alone.  Of the £219,00o pledge to date – over £150,000 has been received as applications. Thank you to everyone for your amazing support of the project.