Awel Co-op secures £5.25m loan for community wind farm

Awel Co-op, an award-winning community wind farm, are celebrating a £5.25m investment by Triodos Bank. Dan McCallum, one of the co-op’s directors, said

“We are delighted that Triodos, the leading ethical bank in the UK, have decided to provide a 15 year loan to us. They awarded the loan after an extensive due diligence process on the wind farm. This is one of the largest ever investments in the Amman Valley, a former coal mining community. Triodos have been key backers of the very exciting community energy sector for years in the UK but this is the first time, they’ve been able to invest in an energy co-op in Wales.”

Left to right at rear: Victoria Allsopp and Elin Blundell, Burges Salmon; Ben Kumordzie, TLT, Triodos’ solicitor. At front, Mary Ann Brocklesby and Dan McCallum, Awel Co-op

The co-op has now decided to extend its Share Offer until the end of July or until it reaches its target of £3m. This will enable Awel to refinance a Welsh Government loan of £1.2m. The interest rate will for shares will remain @5%/year in order to reach the £3m target as soon as possible. The project was backed by Hollywood star, Michael Sheen, who hails from Port Talbot;  Paul Thorburn, Wales rugby legend; Gillian Clarke,  Wales first National Poet; and Paul Allen  of the Centre for Alternative Energy.

Steve Moore from Triodos said “Having known this project a long time it is great to see it come to fruition.  Community engagement is at the heart of this project and this is evidenced by the success of the wide base of shareholders in the community.  All community projects are about people and this is no exception – Awel have shown rare levels of resilience and dedication to overcome many challenges and make this project happen, and they can be justly proud of their magnificent achievement.  These are not easy projects to deliver and we have been able to utilise our experience gained from over a decade of supporting similar community owned projects.”

Dan added “We want to acknowledge the critical role that Welsh Government played in providing us with bridging finance of £3.55m to get our project built. This has enabled us to undertake our share offer which has so far raised £2.26m, and secure finance from Triodos.  This deserves to be made a case study of how government support can enable community engagement and help lever finance into one of the most deprived areas of the UK.

We also want to thank  Ynni Lleol/Local Energy, Big Society Capital, Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust, Robert Owen Community Banking and EU Regional Programmes for providing vital development funding. We are also very grateful for the support of our legal advisors, Burges Salmon, who have been on this journey with us from the start. Without the commitment of Burges Salmon staff, our project would not have been built.

All our profits, estimated to be £3m over 20 years, will be ploughed into further low carbon projects in our community. We want our wind farm to be owned by as many people, charities and community groups as possible – it’s fantastic that you can co-own a wind farm from £50. As a co-op, it’s one member, one vote irrespective of how many shares someone owns. And you’ll be able to see where your money is going! Visit www.awel.coop for more info”

Notes to Editor

Awel Co-op has sought to celebrate creativity and fun to engage people as part of the construction, and future running, of the wind farm. Our timelapse, of the construction of the foundations, entitled Bake Off and set to music, can be seen here. Double Welsh BAFTA-winner, Mike Harrison, made an inspiring film of the erection of the turbine, capturing a magnificent Welsh sunrise.

The project consists of two Enercon wind turbines, each with a capacity of 2.35MW. The wind farm has a capacity of 4.7MW and will generate enough to meet the equivalent annual electricity needs of over 2000 homes. Production levels so far have already exceeded expectation. The wind farm is located on Mynydd y Gwrhyd close to the town of Pontardawe. It is about 20 miles north of Swansea on the western edge of the Valleys.

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