Apple Juice community hydro

 

Apple Juice hydroProject name: Apple Juice Community Hydro
Technology: Run of River 90kW Hydro; Pelton Turbine (local school kids named “Hamish Hydro”); Max flow 75l/s 90kW
Location: Applecross
CARES funding: CARES pre-planning Loan £50,000.
Date complete: Share offer completed November 2015. Hydro completed December 2016.

After raising £780,00k via a share offer, the community of Applecross developed and commissioned a 90kW hydro scheme. The scheme is operated by Apple Juice, a Community Benefit Society (also known as a BenCom). Surplus income from the scheme goes to the Applecross Community Company for the benefit of the community.

Background

The hydro scheme was initiated by the members of the Applecross Community Company after completing feasibility studies in 2009.

The Allt Breugach burn was identified as a suitable site for the development of a hydro scheme. The burn, which also runs through a limestone cave system, has been used in the past to run water wheels to mill animal feed at Applecross Farm.

Apple Juice (Applecross) Limited was establish as a co-operative and Community Benefit Society to own and operate community renewable energy schemes. Profits from the scheme are gifted back to the Applecross Development Company. This is a registered charity that aims to promote sustainable development in the community of Applecross.

Highland Eco-Design Limited’s technical consultants provided a turnkey construction solution; they progressed the project from its early design stages through to completion, acting as technical project managers.

Applecross Trust, which owned the land, gave the community a 40-year lease.

Project Aims and Objectives

The overall cost of the project was £780,000. Of this, £746,000 was construction and development costs. An additional £34,000 was required to cover the scheme’s running costs until Apple Juice started receiving income from the Feed-in Tariff.

Apple Juice aimed to raise at least £150,000 (20% of the total amount required) by offering shares. A commercial loan would be used to bridge the capital gap. Community Shares Scotland supported the community as they prepared to launch their public share offer.

Outcomes and achievements

The share offer was launched in October 2015, raising the maximum amount required in five weeks. It completed in November that year, one week ahead of its closing date. Construction began on the hydro in August 2015 and was completed in December 2016. Thanks to the dedication of the construction team and the timely connection installation by the local distribution network operator, the project was commissioned just 36 hours before the FIT registration deadline. The hydro is now fully operational.

It is estimated that the new hydro scheme will provide clean electricity to power more than 110 homes each year.