Construction work has begun on the Donside hydro scheme in Aberdeen, Scotland – a project described by developers Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE) as the country’s first community urban hydro scheme.

The hydro scheme, which will be built on the site of the former Donside Papermill, now Donside Village in the Tillydrone area of the city, will draw water from the River Don to create clean, renewable electricity that will be sold to the national grid.

Surplus profits from the initiative will be channelled into a community fund that will be used to achieve social and environmental benefits for local, deprived communities.

"Getting to the construction stage has been a tremendous challenge, with hurdles at almost every juncture, but I’m delighted to say that with sheer determination and a huge amount of support from everyone involved we have reached this vital milestone," commented Sinclair Laing, Founding Director at ACE. "I’m a great believer in the power of community and this is a meaningful example of how community energy projects are achievable and can make a difference."

ACE, a community benefit society set up by members of the Donside Community Association (DCA), has been working on the project for over three years. The company’s next milestone is the launch of the Community Share Offer, which will fund the £1.2million project, which is expected in early July.

Construction of the main body of the scheme is on track to be completed by the start of October 2016, with landscaping of the riverside area to follow shortly thereafter.