Aberdeen Community Energy - Donside Hydro

ACE are developing Scotland's first urban community hydro, a 100kW Archimedes screw on the banks of the River Don in Tillydrone, Aberdeen.

We did it!

On 9th Sep 2016 we successfully raised £500,000 of £500,000 target with 195 investors in 28 days
Community Share Project



It's official - We have reached out £500,000 Shares target and gained a heap of new Members.

In a small corner of Scotland, all you amazing people have helped to make our dreams reality!



August 2016

We are Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE); Aberdeen’s first community energy company. We are building Scotland’s first urban community hydro scheme with the UK’s biggest Archimedes’ screw; the Donside Hydro in Donside Village, Aberdeen. You are hereby invited to invest in our innovative renewable energy scheme.

Our mission is to help Donside Community Association deliver on the ethos of Donside Village as a sustainable mixed community, that truly works for its residents, visitors and natural riverside setting. At the same time as delivering Aberdeen, Scottish, UK and European policy and actions addressing energy, climate, diverse economies and sustainable communities.

On this page & in our Community Share Offer Document you can read all about our exciting community share offer and lots of interesting (and some not so interesting) information about the project, the finances, the community behind it and the benefits that will come out of it for everyone. We encourage you to read through and consider Pledging and / or Investing in this innovative scheme, a first on so many levels.

Together, we can build a better future.

Thank you



Donside Community Association (DCA) is a voluntary Association set up in 2013 and run by the residents of Donside Village. It acts to improve quality of life, community and place by setting goals, accessing funds and organising projects, events and activities. More about the DCA, including its Committee, Constitution and Community Investment Plan – the strategy for how it will define & deliver local priorities and projects - can be found on the website - click the link in the title.


Local Energy Scotland - We are being supported by Local Energy Scotland (LES) - a consortium which administers and manages the Scottish Government's Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES).


Sharenergy is a social enterprise that exists to help local communities like ours successfully set up, raise capital through community shares, and run local community renewable energy schemes.

Mann Power Consulting is the UK’s leading supplier of Archimedean Screw hydropower turbines. They have commissioned more than 40 hydropower systems across the UK.

Highland Eco-Design  is a micro-hydro installer based throughout Scotland. Since incorporation they have commissioned over 1.1MW of capacity across 28 installations. Highland Eco Design are the selected principal contractor for the project.

We are also receiving advice from the following organisations:

HBJ Gateley PLC (Legal advice)

Burness Paull LLP (Governance advice)

DEP Landscape Initiatives (Landscape design)

Weber Shandwick (Marketing & communications)


ACE and the Donside Hydro scheme is Aberdeen’s first community driven renewable energy initiative, supporting the creation of Aberdeen’s first sustainable community – Donside Village. The scheme is projected to generate 520,000kWh of clean, renewable energy to help meet our nation’s energy needs, mitigate climate change and provide a community fund to help transform the area we call home.

The site has planning permission, the necessary SEPA water licences and is locked into a guaranteed higher rate Feed in Tariff energy subsidy until 29th September 2016, after which it will reduce to a lower tariff.

The total cost of the hydro is £1,250,000. This Offer seeks to raise £500,000 by the issue of Community Shares at £1.

You may buy a minimum of 100 community shares 100,000 Community Shares at their £1 par value. You should regard these Community Shares as a long-term investment.


The Donside Hydro is projected to generate 520,000 kWh of clean, green, local electricity each year. This is enough to power around 130 homes and displace 240 tonnes of climate destroying CO2 emissions from fossil fuel energy generation.

The community fund generated will also be directed in part towards projects that will further improve the landscape value of the Donside riverfront beyond the scheme. Significant tree and shrub planting has been designed to create valuable spaces for people and wildlife.

Surplus profits will form a community fund - projected to be up to £450,000 over 20 years. This will be diverted to local charities, such as the Donside Community Association, to allocate to activities to make their communities more sustainable.


Investing with us presents everyone with the opportunity to secure our vision of a greener, cleaner, healthier future while enabling you to receive a fair return on your money, likely more than you would get from a high street bank. Community Share interest will be paid at a projected annualised rate of 7%. At this projected rate Members can expect to more than double their investment over the duration of the scheme.



The scheme will harness the nearby urban resource – The River Don.

Our site is low value amenity land in an active floodplain. It is at a bend in the lower reaches of the River Don, at the edge of Donside Village – which formerly housed a series of industrial mills. The weir has not been used for many years and the area around it has been secured by the community for the generation of renewable energy.

The scheme makes use of the river dropping about 2.5m in height over 400m around a bend. Our scheme will be fed by a new channel cut across the bend. The riverside around the scheme and village is being improved by the community for recreational use and wildlife value.


Our scheme feeds water to an Archimedes screw turbine 4.3m in diameter - the biggest in the UK!, together with a gearbox, generator and inverter that will generate electricity for export to the national grid. The gearbox and generator will be housed in a flood resistant powerhouse.

The Archimedes screw is a very old technology, developed in ancient Greece for pumping water and more recently used in reverse to generate electricity. The Archimedes screw is a reliable and simple design. Over the past 10 years, many Archimedes screw schemes have been commissioned in the UK, including community schemes at New Mills in Derbyshire, Settle in Yorkshire and elsewhere – with other schemes under development.



The total cost for the 100kW Archimedes screw, on work already complete and on a fixed price construction contract is £1,250,000. We will be liable for all operating costs and will benefit from the sale of electricity and renewable energy subsidies.

Our projections show:

Repayment of Member capital would begin in year two would be repaid by year 20.

Our community fund will be £450,000 over 20 years.

We will explore opportunities for increasing our income in the future, including selling electricity direct. This could further improve your return and the community fund.

Our profit should increase steadily over time as the FIT tariff (part of our income) is index linked. This means annual interest payments to Members will rise steadily over 20 years, starting below the predicted 7% IRR and ending well above it. IRR (Internal Rate of Return) is a standard way of aggregating this varying interest over time into a single representative figure.

A projected payment profile based on our main scenario with £1,000 Member investment is:

We anticipate Members will take the opportunity to withdraw capital each year. We aim to be able to pay interest and return capital once our annual accounts are finalised and approved after our financial year end. So, if we make a profit in the financial year 2017/18, the interest and capital repayment would only be received by the member part-way through 2018. 


Construction is already well underway, having started in early June.  You can view construction activity for the turbine & powerhouse in the timelapse video below! 

Our overall project timeline is set out in the table below:

How to support our project and local communities:

By making a Pledge. You can make a Pledge of any amount. A Pledge is a Donation to Aberdeen Community Energy. Just click on the 'Rewards' buttons to the righ of this page and select the amount you wish to Donate. Donating is a great option for anyone who either can't afford to or doesn't want to invest BUT who still wants to do their bit to support this great project and community.

We're encouraging everyone to make a Pledge - however small - even if you've chosen to Invest.  Your Pledge is burden free finance, allowing us to increase the size and impact of our annual community fund! 

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