WORK to build Sheffield’s first community-owned energy project is set to start in the summer.
Sheffield Renewables, the group behind the proposal for a hydro-electric generator at Jordan Dam on the River Don, are pressing ahead with their plans after securing the majority of cash needed to fund it.
Once built, it would produce enough electricity to power 80 homes and save about 170 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.
Volunteers spent several months recruiting residents of Sheffield to become shareholders in the project, based near Tinsley Viaduct.
The minimum stake is £250 and the maximum £20,000 and each shareholder becomes a member of Sheffield Renewables with a vote when decisions are made at member meetings.
About 160 people have signed up to be part of the scheme.
After raising £191,000 towards their £250,000 target and with more investment set to come, the team is now preparing to put the contract out to tender.
Emma Bridge, Sheffield Renewables general manager, said: “We think we will break the £200,000 mark by the end of next week.
“After we’ve put the contract out, we will find out if we have raised enough or need to put out a second shareholder offer.
“Our aim is to appoint the contractors by the end of March with proper work starting late summer. If it goes to plan we should be producing electricity by the end of this year.
Investors will receive a modest financial return and can ‘cash in’ their shares after three years.
Money made from the project will also be put back into other renewable energy schemes.
Mark Wells, finance director and volunteer at Sheffield Renewables, said: “Community shares are a way for people to invest in schemes that might not otherwise go ahead and to be involved in changing our city to a greener way of living.
“This project will not only generate green electricity, but also benefit fish and eels in the river.”