South Somerset hydropower project

We initiated an innovative partnership with a group of historic mill owners to develop a renewable energy project. This approach has since been adopted by other hydropower groups in Mendip, Exmoor, Dorset and Dartmoor.

Hydropower Project

Hainbury Archimedes Screw

About the project

In support of the Kyoto Agreement the government pledged that 5 per cent of the UK's electricity should come from renewable sources by 2005, and 10 per cent by 2010. These sources include wind energy, wave and tidal power, biomass, solar energy, as well as hydropower.

As there are many historic mills in South Somerset, some up to 1000 years old, hydropower as a source of renewable energy is not only best suited to the local area but is also the most environmentally friendly out of all the renewable sources of energy.

The project is one of only six in the UK chosen for the European funded Enthuse Project, which carries out case studies of local authority involvement in renewable energy for dissemination to local government in five European countries.


Who was involved in the project?

The South Somerset Hydropower Group was formed in 2001 prior to all ten mill owners engaging with consultants from Hydro Generation Ltd of Devon to conduct a feasibility study into use of their mills for electricity generation and to negotiate the necessary licenses from the Environment Agency. With help from us, grants have been awarded by the Energy Saving Trust, and by the South Western Electricity Board in support of this project.


What are the benefits of such a project?

To date, the six mills are generating renewable electricity of approximately 279,006 units (kilowatt hours) of electricity each year. This is the equivalent of 56 households' worth of electricity, saving 148 tonnes CO¬≤.


Hydropower Leaflet

Careys Mill

Clapton Mill

Gants Mill