How people power has helped transform the UK energy market When Thrive Renewables launched in 1994 – then as the Wind Fund – just 2 per cent of the UK’s electricity came from wind and solar. Since then, it’s been empowering people to invest in energy that delivers social, environmental and financial returns. Here are just some of its projects in the UK’s clean power revolution Words by Gavin Haines
Mean Moor wind farm, Cumbria A testament to the power of the collective, Mean Moor wind farm was a private enterprise until a Cumbrian community bought it out in 2017. The site is owned by three co-operatives – High Winds, Baywind Energy and Energy Prospects – which took out a loan from Thrive Renewables to buy the farm (part of this was paid back within a fortnight after locals raised an impressive £2.8m).
Mean Moor highlights how the community sector can operate in the business world and demonstrates the growing appetite for communityowned energy projects in the UK.
Homes powered: 4,500*
Beochlich hydro-electric plant, Argyll Whirring away on the edge of Loch Awe, Beochlich is a hydro-electric project that takes advantage of something the west coast of Scotland has a lot of: rain. Running off the hills and into the loch, the country’s bountiful drizzle helps drive two turbines.
Nearby, the Bridge of Orchy Community Hall tackles social isolation by organising activities for parents, children and older people. The hall recently received funding via Thrive’s Community Benefit Programme, which provides local community buildings with advice and grants to implement energy-saving measures and make them more comfortable places to be.
Homes powered: 1,000*
United Downs Geothermal Power Project, Cornwall Set to go live next year, United Downs will be the UK’s first geothermal power plant. The site lays claim to the country’s deepest onshore well, which disappears 5.1km below ground; heat from such wells will drive turbines, powering generators that will provide clean electricity 24/7. Thrive Renewables announced in February that it would invest up to £6.5m in the plant, which is being built by Geothermal Engineering. “This pioneering project taps a constant natural resource, providing baseload renewable electricity, a crucial component of the UK’s clean energy generation mix,” said Matthew Clayton, MD of Thrive Renewables.
Homes powered: 6,500*
Drumduff wind farm, West Lothian Located on an old opencast coal mine near Edinburgh, Drumduff wind farm is symbolic of our shift from fossil fuels to renewables. The facility boasts three towering turbines, which can generate enough electricity to power around 5,500 homes. The 47-hectare site is in the process of rewilding itself; slowly the scars of the extraction industry are beginning to heal. The project, which is co-owned with Scottish renewable energy developer GreenPower, also includes an area of woodland that is managed alongside the wind farm.
Homes powered: 5,500*
March wind farm, Cambridgeshire Chances are you’ve enjoyed a spud that passed through Greenvale AP’s processing plant, which sorts 12,000 tonnes of potatoes each month. That requires a lot of energy, much of which comes from a wind turbine on site that feeds electricity directly to the Cambridgeshire factory. Built by Thrive Renewables, the small-scale green energy project not only makes Britain’s beloved potatoes more sustainable, but also makes Greenvale AP less vulnerable to fluctuations in the energy market. Also taking advantage of the blustery Cambridgeshire fens are the nearby Boardinghouse and Ransonmoor wind farms, in which Thrive has also invested.
Homes powered: 1,126*
Above: Thrive Renewables has helped to bring 22 UK renewable energy projects to life, including wind farms such as the one pictured here
This article has been created by Positive News and is supported by Thrive Renewables. www.thriverenewables.co.uk
* One home = 3.78MWh
(Source: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS))