Barr River Community Hydro Scheme Review
Review of hydro scheme development potential

Barr River Community Hydro Scheme
Barr River Community Hydro Scheme

The Morvern Community Development Company (MCDC) had been exploring the potential for a community owned hydro scheme since 2013. Another hydro consultant initially identified five potential schemes, with capacities between 15kW and 1500kW. These were narrowed down to two schemes both on Forestry Commission land, sized at 100kW and 1500kW. Environmental surveys were conducted but the work stalled and the consultant was unable to establish concept designs that would be financially viable.

In 2018 MCDC issued a tender for a review of the schemes’ financial viability and any opportunities to improve this. Glen Hydro won the tender and concluded that the 100kW scheme was not financially viable given the recent reduction in feed in tariffs. The 1500kW Barr River scheme was considered to be financially viable if better use was made of the scheme catchment, different pipeline materials were chosen and the grid connection arrangement was modified. Despite these changes the budget was estimated at £6m, a significant amount for a community to raise. Therefore, Glen Hydro suggested a variety of finance arrangements that the community could consider, including raising debt finance themselves, a community share offer and engaging a private developer.

Glen Hydro worked alongside the community to explore these options whilst also developing the scheme design and consents driven by the FIT scheme closure in March 2019. Glen Hydro secured the feed in tariff and subsequently worked with the community to raise the debt finance to enable the scheme to be constructed, becoming the largest community hydropower scheme in the British Isles.