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Green light for hydroelectric energy project

Cardiff is about to get a little bit greener after the council began inviting tenderers to bid on a contract to build a hydroelectric scheme to power the equivalent of up to 550 homes.

On Monday, Cardiff Council received tenders from bidders to start work on a project to build a hydroelectric scheme next to Radyr Weir.

It is hoped the scheme will be up and running by 2016.


An artist’s impression of the project

The project will use two 4m-wide Archimedes screws, set a cross a 10m stretch alongside the weir. The turbines will generate electrical energy that will be fed into the  grid that supplies Cardiff, and is expected to create 1,750,000 kilowatt hours a year – enough energy to supply around 550 homes.

Not only will the scheme produce clean, green energy- according to council appraisal documents the scheme should pay back its building costs within 7 years of being up and running. The council can now begin considering bids, and hopes to approve a contract by March.

There are even hopes it will prove “fish friendly” too, with an improved fish pass incorporated into the design. This could allow a greater number of fish to travel upstream and may even result in increase in fish stocks in the River Taf.

After a five-year process of getting permissions head of Cardiff Council Energy Team Adam de Benedictis is pleased to see it going ahead. He said: “The River Taf offers opportunities to create constant renewable, clean sources of energy.”

Mr de Benedictis also explained that hydroelectric energy is more commercially attractive than solar energy, but it is more difficult to get permission for. The proposal had to gain permission from Natural Resources Wales to try and make sure it would have minimal negative ecological impact.

Cardiff Council currently spends around £10million on energy each year, and is facing increasing Carbon taxes around their energy consumption alongside many other organisations in the UK. Like many other big UK cities, Cardiff is a three-planet city, meaning that three planets would be needed to support its current resource needs.

Mr de Benedictis said: “The site at Radyr is suited for hydro electric because of the big height drop at the Weir and the flow of the river itself, the next best site in the Cardiff area is considered to be Llandaff.”

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