Meet the new wind farm bosses!

Tiddlywinks Childcare Centre, based in Ystalyfera, caught a break in the weather to visit Awel Co-op wind turbines last week. Thanks to a grant from the Hamamelis Charitable Trust, Tiddlywinks are now proud owners of £500 worth of shares in the co-op wind farm.

Liz Cole, Business Manager at Tiddlywinks said “The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They asked loads of questions there on site and afterwards during the ride home and at the Centre! Helen Davies from Awel Aman Tawe was very good with all the children (and staff!), answering queries and showing patience with their over-enthusiasm. We are now very proud to be co-owners of the turbines as part of the co-op along with other members.”

Dan McCallum, one of Awel Co-op’s Directors, said “We want our turbines to be owned by as many people and groups as possible. We are delighted that this grant funding has enabled Tiddlywinks to own shares in the project. This means they’ll get a projected 5% return per year for 20 years on their £500 investment. It helps improves their sustainability and is a really good educational experience for the children. They’ll be able to visit the site whenever they want and say ‘we own those windmills!’. We are hoping to secure further funding to award shares to other community groups in the local area.”

Dan added “A number of charities have also invested as they see our project as a good fit with their charitable aims, want to help generate clean energy and get a good return on their investment. We are delighted that Friends Provident Foundation have invested £100,000, Other charities and community organisations which have invested include the Environmental Justice Foundation (£5000), Vision 21 (£5,000), Robert Owen Community Banking (£20,000) and NSA Afan (£5,000). However, smaller local charities such as Tiddlywinks don’t have funds to invest so it’s wonderful that grant funding can be used to give them a stake in the turbines.”

Liz Cole said “Tiddlywinks provides all childcare needs in the local community and has been doing so since 1996. We are fully registered and regulated. We have professional and qualified staff, providing centre-based and mobile crèche facilities for children aged from 6 weeks to 13 years. There is more information on our website www.tiddlywinkscyf.org or by phoning us on 01639 842022.”

Owned by local Awel Co-op, the project consists of two 2.35MWh Enercon wind turbines which began production on January 25th 2017 and are expected to generate enough clean, low carbon, energy a year to supply the equivalent of about 2500 homes.  Dan McCallum said “Production at the site has been very good and we’ve already produced more than 5 million kwh. Given that the first four weeks were a test period, we are ahead of schedule and are really pleased.”

The wind farm, which is located on Mynydd y Gwrhyd, close to the town of Pontardawe and about 20 miles north of Swansea, recently secured one of the largest investments ever seen in the Amman Valley; a 15-year, £5.25m investment from Triodos, Europe’s leading sustainable bank.

The co-op has also raised a further £2.4m through a local share offer, the largest ever in Wales. The share offer is aiming to raise £3m in total before the end of October which will enable it to refinance a Welsh Government loan. Dan added “We are keen to refinance this loan as it’s @7.5% whereas our share offer is @5%. Welsh Government can then use the money to help support other community energy projects.”

Awel Co-op is backed by Hollywood star, Michael Sheen, who hails from Port Talbot;  Welsh rugby legend Paul Thorburn; National Poet of Wales Gillian Clarke; and Paul Allen of the Centre for Alternative Energy in Machynlleth, Powys.

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

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