Alan Davies AM, Minister for Natural Resources and Food
The Ynni’r Fro scheme was launched in 2010 and is a jointly funded Welsh Government and ERDF programme that promotes community scale, renewable energy generation.
Ynni’r Fro supports business growth in the renewable energy sector through the creation and expansion of sustainable social enterprises and increased business for energy-related supply chains. The programme is an important contributor to tackling poverty, both through its direct support for job creation and skills development within communities and through the community benefits that flow from revenue generated by community schemes.
The programme offers grants of up to £30,000 to cover pre-planning costs, and grants of up to £300,000 and loans of up to £250,000 towards capital build costs. A network of technical development officers has been established across Wales to provide guidance and support to social enterprises planning or undertaking a renewable energy project. The programme is valued at £13m over its 5 year duration.
To date, there have been 196 expressions of interest from communities throughout Wales who have applied for support through the programme. Of these, a total of 24 projects, expected to be operational by April 2015 (the ERDF project completion date), are being given significant additional ongoing support through the programme. Despite the challenges for some groups, in securing the necessary consents and licenses, in particular for hydro schemes, I am delighted to see progress being made across Wales in the development of community-led renewable energy. I see renewable energy schemes, whether they be community-led or farm-based, as providing a significant opportunity for strong and vibrant green growth in the Welsh economy.
The Ynni’r Fro supported Mynydd y Gwrhyd community wind farm is a good example of what is possible. The scheme will shortly be moving into its construction phase and once underway, will create local construction jobs and contracts to local suppliers in addition to the long-term income generated from the scheme, which will create 7 sustainable full time jobs in a Communities First area. Mynydd y Gwrhyd will generate clean energy for the equivalent of 2,000 homes.
The Ynni’r Fro programme is currently being evaluated. The evaluation will highlight areas of good practice and inform options for future support for community scale microgeneration, including opportunities within the Rural Development Plan to support an expanded programme in the future. This evaluation will be published in September.