GOVERNMENT cuts could mean that a green-energy project inaugurated this week at the diocese of Carlisle’s Lake District conference centre is one of the last of its kind for some time.
Surplus power from the hydro-electric plant at the centre, Rydal Hall, is fed into the national grid, producing an income that should repay its £2-million cost in nine years. But the plant’s maker, Ellergreen Hydro, says that government plans to reduce the feed-in tariff next year could add another six years to the payback time, and that this could discourage other clients from installing them.
“What the Government has proposed will have a significant effect on these sorts of projects,” Ellergreen’s engineering director, Adam Cropper, said on Tuesday. “It is very unfortunate that they have done this. It means less of these projects. It is not the end, but it is a big deal for us. The longer payback time will discourage clients for getting involved.
“There has been a big growth in hydro-power over the past three years, but that is going to go the other way now.”
The plant, which can generate enough electricity to power 400 homes annually, was formally opened on Tuesday by the Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, who blessed the project during a short service. He said: “The need for the Church to love and care for God’s creation as part of its worship undergirds our diocesan environmental policy. The Rydal Hall hydro-electric scheme is a demonstration of this.”
The diocese is also working with Ellergreen on a larger £3-million hydro-electric scheme in the neighbouring valley of Scandale. It is due to open this year, and should produce enough electricity to power 600 homes.
The Revd Martin Jayne, who chairs the diocesan board of finance, said: “The power output of the Rydal scheme has already meant the diocese of Carlisle is carbon-neutral in its use of electricity across all of its properties. This will be further boosted when the Scandale renewable energy project is completed and generating electricity.”