Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Local Energy, Local Income

This lovely town of Cardigan here in west Wales already has a strong reputation for its home-grown community enterprise initiatives and this week I am working on the launch of a major new development – locally-owned energy generation.

The Awel Deg/Fair Wind cooperative is proposing to set up a single wind turbine on land above the Teifi estuary at Ferwig.

The aim is to provide for some of the electricity demand in the district and to create income to fund other sustainable energy projects in the area for the benefit of the whole community. The group wants the Cardigan area to become as self-reliant in energy as possible by creating a range of locally-owned renewable projects.

 At the moment about £20,000 leaves Cardigan every week in electricity bill payments – and most of that money ends up in Spain. Awel Deg’s project is the first step on putting that money back into the local economy.

And shareholders in the project, mostly local we hope, will get an excellent return on their investment.

Awel Deg  has close links with 4CG -- the community enterprise company based in Cardigan, with over 600 local shareholders -- which owns the Pwllhai centre and car parks, the former police station and the old courthouse.

The directors of 4CG fully share Awel Deg’s aims to bring maximum value to the local economy from community ownership of renewable energy schemes.

The initial proposal, now being discussed locally, is for a turbine to be installed at Bryn Farm, Ferwig, which will generate electricity for around 300 local homes over one year. The plan is for a 500kw turbine, with a height to hub of 45m; 67m to blade tip.

The organisation wants to raise the investment needed to install the turbine – about £1.25million -- from the sale of shares to local people. As well as earning a good return on their investment shareholders will have a say in which future community energy projects should be developed.

A planning application for the proposal will be made in a few weeks.

At the community wind turbine site at Bryn Farm, Ferwig, with landowner Huw Jones, right, are members of the Awel Deg/Fair Wind cooperative, including Dave Gillam, Sarah Wright, Liz Rodgers, Brian Mark and 4CG chairman Shan Williams.
Awel Deg chairman, David Gillam, said: “We hope that the Bryn Farm Ferwig Community Wind Turbine will be a small step on the road to a greener future for the Cardigan district. This area is blessed with huge potential for renewable energy generation from wind, hydro, tidal, biodigesters,  and so on. The income from our turbine could help to unlock some of that potential so that in future all our electricity needs are met locally.

“With this income Awel Deg could also support other initiatives that lead to a more robust, sustainable local economy in which we all share the benefits from renewable energy.

“But it is up to people locally, the town council, people in Ferwig, Ceredigion councillors – what do we all want to see happen here? All around the world people are saying this is the only realistic future for the planet, our children, our grandchildren so I believe we should do it here too!”

More information on the website: www.aweldeg.co.uk

see also: www.4cg.org.uk/

and here's a link to a similar project in Scotland, that is already up and running: