Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, has visited Wales’ largest community-owned wind energy project, Awel Aman Tawe windfarm near Pontardawe, to find out more about their work on climate change, funded by their income form the wind project.
Awel Aman Tawe (AAT) is a social enterprise in the Swansea Valley with a track record of supporting energy efficiency, renewable energy and education projects over the past 20 years.
The organisation was founded on the basis that a community wind farm would provide both renewable energy and create income to be used for the public benefit. The project has committed to deliver £47,000 a year of community benefits whilst it repays its construction funding. After that, all the income they receive will support local projects.
The energy created by Awel Aman Tawe is generated by two wind turbines totalling 4.7MW situated in the hills above Pontardawe. It is estimated that the total lifetime local income of the wind project is around £6 million, in addition to the carbon saving and other wider benefits to the local area.
On her visit to the windfarm, the minister met school children from Ysgol y Bedol and Canolfan y Gors who were learning about renewable energy and co-operatives from people involved in the Awel Aman Tawe project.
During the visit, the Minister also took the opportunity to announce £45,000 of funding through the Welsh Government’s Energy Service to help the group’s new social enterprise, Egni Solar Coop, install solar panels on up to 250 buildings across Wales. These include businesses, community centres and schools, sports clubs and leisure centres.
All sites will receive payments for the electricity they generate, potentially saving them over £8 million over 30 years. During their lifetime, it is estimated the solar panels will save approximately 35,000 tonnes CO2.
Egni Solar Coop has also developed solar panels for the roofs of Ysgol y Bedol and Canolfan y Gors. The solar energy generated by the panels provides electricity for the schools and is another great example of clean energy being used to benefit the community.
Minister for Environment, Energy and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths said:
“Community led schemes are well placed to understand their local areas and bring people together with a common purpose. Awel Aman Tawe is a great example of a renewable project benefiting the whole community and I’m sure Egni Co-op’s rooftop project will be equally successful.
“Egni Coop’s rooftop solar rollout across Wales is a very exciting initiative. I am pleased the Welsh Government’s Energy Service is providing a £45,500 grant to support the development costs of the project. This will be a big contribution to our local energy targets and one of the practical ways I see Wales tackling the climate emergency.”
Egni Co-op’s Director, Rosie Gillam, said:
“We are delighted that Welsh Government Energy Service has provided this grant. Now that climate change is so high profile, this is an opportunity for Wales to take the lead and for as many people as possible to get involved in this cooperative effort.”