The village of Sonning, already well-known for its A-List inhabitants, can now add another impressive permanent resident to the list – a state of the art, green energy hydropower generator.

Sonning Hydropower Grand Opening

Guests gather for the official opening of the Hydropower Station

Thursday 18th May was a day of jubilation as guests gathered on the banks of the Thames to celebrate the grand opening of the newly completed hydropower facility. The scheme by Pridewater Estates Ltd involved years of planning, including environmental surveys, was completed in January 2017 following a 7 month construction period and has already generated a significant amount of energy which is being fed directly back into the National Grid. Pridewater Estates representatives plus the key stakeholders involved in the project were in attendance at the celebrations including the site landowners Hugo and Annabel Gamble, key Sonning community representatives, principal contractors Greenford Ltd, as well as friends and supporters of the scheme.

Pridewater Estates Ltd is a national canal marina organisation which owns and operates four sites across England. Ever aware of their carbon footprint, Pridewater Estates had always worked to minimise their environmental impact with the overarching goal of generating enough energy to counter their total combined site emissions, and the answer came in the form of a highly efficient hydroelectric scheme – an Archimedes screw. The device works by water falling naturally over a cascade, rotating an Archimedes screw, which generates electricity. While not feasible to install a screw at each marina location, the idea came to build one which would produce more than enough energy to offset all four marinas at once – something which the generator at Sonning is already on track to achieve.

Sonning Hydropower Grand Opening

Simon Rogers (Greenford Ltd) and Terry Lane (Pridewater Estates Ltd)

To officially open the site, Pridewater Estates’ Terry Lane gave the keynote address and unveiled a plaque commemorating the day. Mr Lane spoke of the commitment and vision of Pridewater Estates to make a significant contribution to the green energy movement while also turning a profit for the business. Mr Lane said “All our people who have been involved in this development are immensely proud of what we are doing here. We hope it provides the inspiration for others to look for similar opportunities to improve the environment, while at the same time growing their businesses as we are growing ours, in order create more job opportunities, a stronger economy and increased prosperity for this country.”

Sonning Hydropower Grand Opening

(L to R) Simon Rogers (Greenford Ltd), Annabel & Hugo Gamble (Landowners), and Terry Lane (Pridewater Estates Ltd)

Landowner Hugo Gamble also spoke on the day thanking those who had supported the project and made mention of a personal long held desire to establish a hydroelectric scheme at this location. Mr Gamble said “for many years we have stood at this point and thought this would be a very good place from which to try to generate green electricity from hydropower. We owned the land, the Abstraction Licence and had a rather sketchy vision of what might be, but Pridewater Estates Ltd and contractors Greenford Ltd were the master minds, they literally took an idea and turned it into reality and are, in our opinion, an excellent example of British engineering and ingenuity.”

Construction at site began in the summer of 2016 and was completed by January 2017 with the screw now fully operational and generating electricity. The opening ceremony was held at the hydropower site on the Thames with a reception afterwards at the neighbouring Upper Thames Motor Yacht Club.

To view the full works gallery please click here