All posts by Emily Hinshelwood

Awelog: Completion & Commissioning

Awelog logo The turbines are up!

Well, the windfarm is finally up. It’s incredible to see it turning after what feels like a lifetime since that first meeting 18 years ago when a few local residents got together to discuss the idea.

Over the last few months it’s been busy on site:

Concrete Pour at Turbine 2

After the steel foundations were constructed, the whole base was filled with concrete. Here is the concrete being poured into the foundations at Turbine 2. It took all day, but see how fast they work!


The substation was completed, and clad in stone. Inside, two sets of switchgear were installed, the meters and transformers, all ready to be connected to the grid.

Turbine Delivery

We sent out over 4,000 postcards to households on the route of the turbine delivery with details of how to keep informed of when the lorries would be coming through. We put up posters and flyers all along the route.

Big thanks to all those who helped us with putting up posters, labelling and stamping – Alison Maddocks, Johanna Lukas, Derek Cobley, Andrew and Beth Lucas, Suzanne Bevan, Janet and Rhys Daniel, Rachel Kennedy, Alun Edwards, Dave Smith, Mair Craig and Graham, Don Keller, Brian Jones, Bethan Edwards, Jenny Cowley, Tanya Davies, Eleri Davies, Yvonne Wood, Mari Morris and Peter Fenner.

Here’s one evening in the ‘Land of Labels’, just getting going, before the wine came out…

We had one delivery per day for 10 days, usually with two parts per delivery (e.g. two blades or two pieces of tower). It was quite a sight to see them turning at the Cross in Pontardawe and up through the villages. Many people came out on route to photograph and film them coming through. Thanks to all the residents for putting up with this and to our haulier, Plantspeed  – luckily it went very smoothly and we didn’t knock anything down or break anything on route!

Various parts

The parts for the turbines were stored on the areas of hardstanding by the respective turbine location. They had to be carefully positioned so they could all fit, were safe and  accessible in the right order. This was quite a jigsaw considering every time something had to be moved it required a crane!

There are 4 parts to each tower. Here are two parts arriving.

The hub goes inside the nacelle at the top of the tower. Here’s the hub and the front nose of the nacelle.

The blades are huge, – it’s mind-boggling to see how long they are and how they bolt into the hub. The edges are ‘feathered’ to reduce noise levels.

The inner workings inside the tower

Additional security cameras – called UFOs – were installed while the turbine parts were being stored. These connected directly to Enercon security in Holland. Apologies to anyone who was a bit freaked out by a disembodied voice warning them to keep away from the turbines 😉


So after 7 months of work on the site – constructing the track, substation etc – and after 18 years of planning, the turbines finally go up. In a matter of days. What a feeling! Immense thanks to BAFTA Award winner (and Awel member) Mike Harrison who volunteered to get up pre-dawn to film the lifting of the blades, and edit this, well, uplifting film.

After the turbines went up, the electrics were connected and the windfarm began generating green electricity and feeding it into the grid. They were fully commissioned on 25th January 2017 from which point Awel started earning money from the energy generated. Enercon are carrying out final tests on the working turbines before the final handover of  the turbine keys to Awel Co-op.

Kani & Eira, whose lives have been somewhat dominated by wind turbines:


Awel found its way onto the TV a few times.


Awel has won and/ or been shortlisted for several awards in 2016, including: Winner, Renewable Energy Project of the Year – Community Energy Awards Wales and England; Finalist, REUK Wales Green Energy Awards; Winner, Plunkett Award – Rural Community Ownership Award, Wales; Finalist, NatWest Social Business Awards; Finalist, WCVA Third Sector Awards; Finalist, Cynnal Cymru Sustain Wales Awards.

Dan at the Community Energy Awards

Kani at the Plunkett Awards:

Dan, Hamish Laing, Michael Calderbank and Peter Charles at the NatWest Social Business Awards:

Reinstatement of the track, and highways work

With the turbines up, the track is no longer needed except for maintenance vehicles. The Site Office has been removed, and Raymond Brown have reinstated the track to 3 metres wide using the turf that was removed earlier in the year. The lane has been kerbed and tarmacked a bit wider than it originally was which has improved visibility for local residents joining the A474, and the bellmouth re-landscaped. Vehicle gates, pedestrian kissing gates and a horseriding access have been put in to protect the common, and to keep livestock from the road, and people’s gardens. The council have inspected the reinstatement under our Section 278 Agreement and are happy with it. They keep a 20% bond from Awel for a year in case there are any problems caused by the work carried out.

The bellmouth, lane and track

Gates, and cattle grid


The turbines will be maintained by service technicians who are employed by Enercon to work specifically on Enercon turbines. Here is our team of technicians: (right to left) Wayne Morgan (from Rhondda), Jake Mason (from Cwmgors) and Alan Wright (our high voltage specialist).

Share Offer

We have now raised an incredible £1.7 million through co-op shares. The Share Offer is open until the end of March, raising money to pay back our Welsh Government loan. The application form and share offer document are on the website here if you would like to invest or forward to a friend.



We’ve had over 100 visitors  to the site to watch the deliveries, the lifts and to see the turbines up. Here’s just a few:

Please do come and visit! You could even do the Strava Segment: Awel Windfarm Track. Kani marked this track at Christmas, and is hoping to see a few more runners up there. It’s a good track for cycling too.

So the turbines are turning… many, many thanks to everyone who has been part of this project, to all those who have invested in the windfarm and particularly to Dan McCallum for the sheer determination and hard work he has put in over so many years to get the turbines up. Time for a glass of bubbly!


Awelog: Weeks Fifteen to Twenty

Awelog logo Weeks Fifteen to Twenty: Steel & Concrete.

Turbine steel foundations

The steel foundation baskets have been constructed. It took four days to build each foundation, with an expert team who are experienced at working on Enercon turbines. Here are some photos to show you the various stages:

And from the air:

And if you want to watch their amazingly fast work, here it is – the clouds are pretty cool as well:

Concrete pour

The concrete has been poured for Turbine 1. It was a full day’s work from 5am to 7pm (on the night of Wales vs Portugal in the European Championships)-  so the team made sure they had enough time to get to a pub!  Roughly 1,200 tonnes of concrete was squirted through what looked like a giant cake icing piping tube:

Enercon approved the foundations, and earthing rings were installed by PowerSystems. The area has now been backfilled, so that all you see is the central ring of bolts where the turbine tower pieces will be attached:


The substation building is almost complete. The internal work by WPD and PowerSystems will start mid-August.

Western Power Distribution have put the connection points onto the existing power lines. This is where our electricity will go into the grid.

Trial Run

We had a trial run with Plantspeed hauliers to check the route up from Swansea dock. A few pics of the exciting journey with an extendable lorry and police escorts!

Four Members’ Open Days 

After the success of our first open evening, we decided to organise several further members’ events to invite Awel members and non-members the site. We’ve had a great response and been able to show people the various stages of construction. Our next one is 2pm, Thursday August 11th – please book asap.

Paul Thorburn – Wales’ ex-rugby captain – joined us at one of the open evenings and we asked him to kick a rugby ball over the foundations to commemorate his famous monster 62m conversion against Scotland.

More visitors to the site:

Assembly Members Jenny Rathbone and Jeremy Miles came to visit the site. They were pleased to see Awel’s commitment to contracting local firms in the construction of the site. Here they are with Dan (Awel) and Joe (Raymond Brown):

One of our longterm volunteers, Kani Hinshelwood, comes back to inspect construction.

Following the Welsh Government’s agreement to a £3.55 million loan to Awel, Lesley Griffiths, (Cabinet Secretary for Environment and Rural Affairs) came to visit the site last week:

Awel Members visit the site

And thanks especially to Tanya, Bethan and Jenny for all their work distributing posters and flyers about the Share Offer. We have now raised an incredible £1.213 million through co-op shares. The share offer document is on the website here if you would like to invest.

Fourth Progress meeting:

A very positive meeting, in fact construction is ahead of schedule. From left to right: Chris Usher (QuadConsult), Tom (Wind Prospect), Rory & Andreas (Enercon),  Eirwyn (Power Systems), Jamie, Owen & Steve (Raymond Brown), Jamie (Wind Prospect), Charlotte (EST).



Awelog: Weeks Eleven to Fourteen

Awelog logo Weeks Eleven to Fourteen: Foundations!

Laying the Foundations

Substation: The design for the substation has been approved by Western Power Distribution (WPD); the foundations are complete and walls are progressing. The concrete in windfarm switch room has been poured. The substation will house the two sets of switch gear (ours and WPD’s) where the electricity from the turbines is connected to the grid. The machinery has been ordered; it will arrive and be installed in September.

Turbine foundations

The holes have been dug for both turbines with drainage ditches to take away any water. It’s hard to appreciate the size of these holes, so we’ve taken a few pictures with us in to show you the scale.

Turbine 1 has had its base layer of concrete poured. Here’s the hole with Dan pretending to be a turbine:

And the whole day of concreting  in the rain sped up to 2.5 minutes. Crikey they work fast!

Above the concrete, a mat of steel bars was laid, and the bolt ring placed in the middle. This picture of the bolt ring is prior to it going in the hole:

Awel Members Open Evening

We had a great evening up on the site a few weeks ago. We were so pleased to welcome thirty members to see the construction work , some travelling great distances. Owen, Jamie, Bethan and Steve were all on site to answer questions and show the members around the site. We went in a convoy along the track to the substation, and walked to the two turbine locations, then went back for tea and coffee at the site office. We will be holding another open evening on June 29th. If you’re interested in coming, do let us know.

Share Offer:

We have now raised an incredible £1.186 million through co-op shares. The share offer document is on the website here.

Third Progress meeting:

A good meeting, everything is happening on schedule. Amongst other things discussed was the trial run planned for the 27th June. This is to test the route the turbines will take from the docks in Swansea up onto the site. There will be an extendable lorry and a police escort making the journey, filming the entire operation and making notes of any street furniture that will need to be moved. The roads won’t be closed.

From left to right: Darren (Power Systems, electrical contractors), Andreas (Enercon), Alastair (Enercon), Jamie (Raymond Brown), Jaime (Quad Consult), Steve (Raymond Brown), Jamie( (Wind Prospect), and Charlotte (Awel).

Conrad Trevelyan 

We’ve had the very sad news that Conrad Trevelyan, has passed away. We were the first project that Con worked on when he joined Dulas in 2003-4, and were one of the last. In 2003, he did the technical site design which resulted in the turbine locations which are being built now. He oversaw the final tweaks to our Wind Yield Assessment just a couple of months ago. Our scheme would not be getting built now were it not for Con’s skills. Equally important was the ongoing support and encouragement that he gave us over the years when we struggled to get planning consent. He shared our anger at the way we were repeatedly refused planning permission, but helped inspire us that we had a chance of getting there in the end. Con was one of the first to join Awel Co-op. Our thoughts are with his colleagues at Dulas and his family. It was a privilege to have known him.

Awel Member Visits

Every now and then members let us know that they’ve been up to the site to have a look at the construction.  Do feel free to go up and have a look, and if you can, send us a pic. Here’s Awel member Ian’s visit with his sister-in-law and nephews, heading along the track towards the turbine site. Thanks Ian!


Awelog: Weeks eight, nine & ten

Awelog logo Weeks Eight, Nine & Ten: Track complete

Completing the track and starting the foundations

The track has now been completed to Turbine 1 (the furthest turbine, on the common) and to where the substation will be constructed. The team have also begun the foundations for Turbine 1 and for the substation. Here is a map showing the latest work:

I went up the Black Mountain and took a photo of the view across to the Gwrhyd:

Track completion

The track has now reached Turbine 1! In total there’s roughly 2km of track along the common. About 1km of this is improvements to the existing track and 1km is new track.

Constructing the substation

The team have begun constructing the substation which will house the switchgear. This is where the electricity from the turbines is connected to the National Grid.

Turbine foundations

They began levelling the ground in preparation for Turbine 1. They have begun the foundations. They found deep soil depths here from previous opencast mining in the area, so there was a lot of digging to create a level area:

Archaeology and Ecology Watching Briefs 

Hywel and Sian have been continuing their watching briefs on the work being carried out. Sian has found copious tadpoles and some newts and toads which she has relocated to safer locations. These photos are courtesy of Sian Musgrave, Amber Environmental Consultancy:

Green Party candidate visit .

Lisa Rapado, the Green Party Assembly election candidate visited the site. She was impressed with the work, and was particularly keen on the idea that the track will be a public cycle track.

Turbine bolts

These are the bolts for the turbines!


Second Progress meeting:

A good meeting, everything is happening on schedule.

From left to right: Eirwyn (Power Systems, electrical contractors), Tom (Electrical engineer, Wind Prospect), Antonio (Enercon), Andreas (Enercon), Jamie (Wind Prospect), Charlotte (Awel), Chris Usher (Quad Consult, civil engineering consultants) and Jaime (Quad Consult)

The lovely Jenny visited the site this week. She worked for Awel Aman Tawe for many years before having her baby Gwen. Jenny oversaw the site design and planning for the windfarm and was really excited to see it all coming together.




Awelog: Weeks Six & Seven

Awelog logo Weeks Six & Seven: Across the Common

Getting closer & moving the site office

The team reached the top of the fields at Perthigwynion, widened the road as far as Blaen Egel and have started making their way across the common.  Here is the map showing how far they’ve reached.

and the view from the Baran Mountain opposite. Now you can see the track winding its way up to the top of the mountain.

Reaching the top of the fields and setting up the site office. The team reached the top of the fields at Perthigwynion where the existing road is. They moved the site office from the bellmouth up to the top here. Note the bowser supplied by Tony Gourlay (an Awel member) who runs Gourlay Bowsers, .

Widening the road between Perthigwynion & Blaen Egel The existing road has been widened to 4 metres to enable the delivery of the turbines.

Constructing the track across the common The track across the common will be c. 2 kms in total. The team have got about half way.

Here are the before and after shots at the start of the track with a few of our visitors:

They are slicing off and storing the turf to ensure that the track can be reinstated to 3 metres wide following the delivery of the turbines.

This is where they have reached so far – the ruined farm in the distance (Pen Waun Uchaf farm) is close to the location of Turbine 2.

Archaeology and Ecology Watching Briefs Hywel, our archaeologist from Archaelology Wales and Sian, our ecologist from Amber Environmental Consulting, have both been on site full time carrying out a watching brief on the work carried out. There are over 30 archaeological sites on the Gwrhyd, including bronze age burial cairns and medieval quarries. Hywel is checking that these are not being disturbed and that nothing further is being unearthed by the diggers. Further to Sian’s work earlier in the scheme, she is continuing to monitor for any possible damage to wildlife.

Lib Dems visit  In the run up to the Assembly elections, we have invited all local political candidates to visit the site. Here’s a picture of Lib Dems William Powell and Rosie Raison who visited during the week. William is the Chair of the National Assembly Environment and Sustainability Committee. The following day they launched their Community Energy Strategy using Awel as an exemplar scheme.

Delivery Preparation Jamie, our Owner’s Engineer, met with local county councillors, Arwyn Woolcock, Linda Williams and Linet Purcell, to discuss the area consultation and information dissemination regarding the delivery of the turbines.

At the Bellmouth:

The bellmouth is being tarmacked now, and the site office moved up to Perthigwynion.

A few Awel Co-op members visited the site during the week:

Awelog: Weeks Four & Five

Awelog logo Weeks Four & Five: Continuing the track

More track and lots of site meetings

The team have been working their way up through the fields. Here is the map showing how far they’ve reached.

First Progress Meeting  We had our first Progress Meeting at Awel Aman Tawe’s offices.This was to discuss the progress on the site, checking that everything’s happening on time and that they all tie in together (Enercon’s delivery timetable for the turbines, WPD grid connection timetable and Raymond Brown’s construction programme).

This was with: (from left to right) Jaime (Quad Consult, civil engineering design), Jamie (our Engineer, Wind Prospect), Mick (our Site Supervisor, Wind Prospect), Charlotte (Local Energy Development officer, EST), Robert (Logistics Co-ordinator, Enercon), Andres (Engineer, Enercon), Jurgen (Logistics, Enercon), Steve (Contract Manager, Raymond Brown), Eirwyn (Electrical Manager, Power Systems), Tom (Electrical Officer, Wind Prospect) and Roger (Site Manager, Raymond Brown).

Trial Run Discussion  We had a meeting with the police to discuss the trial run which will happen in mid-June. Our trial run will simulate a turbine on a lorry travelling from Swansea Dock to the site. It  physically tests the route and will identify any objects that need to be removed or work that needs to be done. From left to right: Robert, Andres and Jurgen from Enercon; Kevin (Police Officer), Justin (NPT Highways), Jamie and Sophie (Project Manager)  from Wind Prospect and Charlotte (EST).

Meeting with funders We had a site visit with Steve (Triodos Bank), David (Welsh Government) to look at project progress. Hywel (one of our land owners) kindly took us over in his Land Rover to the location of Turbine 1.


Enercon Visit  And we had a Site Visit with Enercon (our turbine supplier) to assess the cut and fill section of the track prior to this being done.

Here are a few pictures of the track as they progressed up through the fields. In particular the cut and fill section at the steepest part of the track.

At the Bellmouth:

The area has been tidied up a bit prior to the site office relocation. Once the track has progressed up to the common, the site office will be relocated further up on the mountain and the bellmouth area finished.

A few Awel Co-op members visited the site during the week:

Awelog: Week Three

Awelog logo Week Three: Constructing the track

Making Tracks

It’s been a straightforward week on site. The team made a good start on the track going up through the fields. Here is the map showing how far they’ve reached.

Mid-week, I went up the Baran Mountain –  opposite the Gwrhyd – and took a photo to show you the route the turbines will be taking. If you look closely you can see Richard’s yellow digger.

Here are a few pictures of the track early in the week. It was very wet and clayey – they struck a spring and put a culvert in.

Once that was sorted they steamed ahead up the field: digging away the soil, laying the geotextile, spreading the stones,  and flattening the track with the roller. People living in the area may have seen many lorries delivering stones to the site. These are sandstone from the local quarry.

At the Bellmouth:

The site office will be moving further up the track soon. After that, the bellmouth will be levelled and landscaped.

A few Awel Co-op members visited the site during the week:

Awelog: Week Two

Awelog logo Week Two: Widening the Lane

The team continued work on the bellmouth this week and began widening the lane up towards the site.

A few faces on site: 

You met some of the team in last week’s blog. 

Also, on site this week were Craig of Raymond Brown,  Sian our ecologist from Amber Environmental Consultancy in Swansea, Phil our archaeologist from Archaeology Wales, and Mick our site agent from Wind Prospect.

The main jobs this week have been to continue with the bellmouth, widen the lane, pipe the ditch and construct the entrance into the field heading up towards the site. This entailed crossing a stream at the entrance to Plas Newydd. A culvert has been put in.

Raymond Brown set up a temporary site office at the bellmouth location.




Here is the lane before and after widening. Thirty metres of hedge needed to be removed  in order the make the track wide enough to bear right into the field. This hedge is being translocated to the bellmouth. It will be planted next week.


Sian, our ecologist,  was monitoring the removal of the hedge and the widening of the lane. She was checking for wildlife (like dormice and toads) that might get harmed by the diggers; and ensuring that the hedge is carefully removed ready for translocation to the bellmouth. In all of the searches, widening and moving, no wildlife was harmed, moved or found. Word must be out on the ‘wildlife network’ to stay away!




Some pictures of the lane being widened. The stones are from the local Gilfach Goch quarry:

And into the field

The weather has been pretty kind, but on Thursday it turned miserable – cold and rainy. The main job was preparing and constructing the culvert where the turbines will bear off from the lane and onto the fields. They needed to finish this on Thursday due to it being Easter weekend, and they couldn’t leave the residents at Plas Newydd without their entrance way. Here are a few pictures:

At the Bellmouth:

At the bellmouth, the bank has been built up for the hedge, and the area levelled. Phil, our archaeologist has checked the site for any archaeological remains. He’ll be back to mark off the archaeological sites on the mountain to ensure they are not damaged by our construction team.

Raymond Brown have set up a temporary site office. The traffic lights have gone, so no more disruption to travellers, and those of you who are local will have seen the sign.

On the mountain.

Up on the mountain, Sian was checking for any  potential damage to wildlife when the construction team start building the track . She relocated frogspawn from some of the large puddles on the hardened track. She also replanted some of the globally threatened Round Leaved Water Crowfoot in a place out of harm’s way. This will create an additional habitat for it and we are also confident it will continue to thrive in its original location as we are only replacing the culvert there.


A few Awel Co-op members visited the site during the week. Twins Mari and Fflur are the co-op’s youngest ‘members’ via their grandparents. We have re-opened the Share Offer, so if you’d like to invest for yourself or for your family, click here: Join Awel


Awelog: Week One.

Awelog logo Week One: Constructing the Bellmouth.

 Construction began this week!

A few faces on site: 

Jamie is the Owner’s Engineer. He is overseeing the construction on behalf of Awel.

Roger, Site Manager, and Bethan, the Site Engineer both work for Raymond Brown Construction and they are overseeing the construction of the site. Richard and Nick, father and son, are in charge of the diggers.

The first job is to create the access track that enables the turbines to be delivered to the site. They will be coming up via Pontardawe, along the A474 and they’ll turn right, opposite the turning to the landfill site. It’s too sharp a turning for the turbines, so we need to create a bell-mouth at the entrance. This is what has been happening this week. Those of you living in the area will have noticed the temporary traffic lights at this junction. Apologies if this causes you any delay.

After Tenderleaf had removed the hedge and trees in the area of the bell-mouth, David of Stumpbusters ground down two large tree-stumps before the diggers came in. Raymond Brown Construction dug out the area, laid the geotextile sheeting, and are using stone quarried from the Gwrhyd to lay the foundations of the bell-mouth.

When the turbines are delivered. They will come up via Pontardawe, along the A474, through Rhydyfro and they will turn right onto the lane opposite the landfill site. We are constructing a bellmouth at the entrance to this lane to enable the turbines to turn, and the lane is being widened for about 200 metres up towards the fields. At that point, the track will divert onto the fields.

Further up on the mountain.

Local farmer Hywel Davies has mown the grass where the road will be constructed on the Common. This is to deter birds from nesting in this area. He has also constructed a fence to keep sheep and cattle away from the construction area.

The local firm Tenderleaf cut back  trees in the bellmouth area, and the hedges up the lane. Afterwards, David of Stumpbusters ground down two large tree-stumps, before the diggers came in.

A few Awel Co-op members visited the site during the week:

We have reopened the Share Offer, so if you’d like to invest click here: Join Awel