Whitby Esk Energy

Business, Community • Scarborough

The Whitby Esk Energy is a community-owned 50kW Archimedes screw hydroelectric turbine on the River Esk at Ruswarp. Run by volunteers, the scheme generates green electricity and improves the ability of fish to travel up-stream over the weir.

  • The Whitby Esk Energy team- all volunteers!

Our story

Many people in and around the North York Moors wanted to "do something" about climate change. We came together with the help of the National Park Authority and set about what to do. Initially, we gave advice about insulation and renewable technologies. Later on, we felt the need to generate our own electricity from renewable sources. This led to the formation of Whitby Esk Energy and the 6-year saga of building our hydro turbine near Whitby.

Before we could start we needed to know if the project was feasible financially, physically and ecologically. A feasibility study showed that it was, so we progressed to jumping the hurdles of planning permission, (water) abstraction licence, landowner support, connection to the electricity grid, finding a supplier and funding. We couldn't have achieved the project without help from the North York Moors National Park Authority, Co2Sense, Keyfund, NatureSave, North Yorkshire County Council and the 100+ individuals who bought community shares in our enterprise.

We share our experiences as much as possible to help others who want to learn about renewable energy and we promote renewable energy in schools and universities. We also want to encourage anybody interested in the project to join our team looking after the turbine and managing the organisation.

Our advice

Use all the skills in your group - everybody brings something different.
Be in it for the long haul - it will take longer than you think.
Operation and maintenance are very different from designing and building - make sure you have access to all the skills.
Succession planning is vital - make sure you keep your organisation active and welcoming.

Our metrics

Annual generation (MWh)/CO2 reduction.
Community Involvement.
Continued operation.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about this story...

Action Area

Renewable Energy



Response to climate crisis





Business, Community, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

Mike Ford

Updated Feb, 2024

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