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Are we a tourist attraction?

Over 60 investors and members of the public came to our first Open Day since the turbines were fully operational. Over 200 came last year during the construction. We think this suggests a lot of people like wind turbines, especially ones you can own!

Some of our visitors on the Open Day

Our Open Day was part of Community Energy Fortnight. Views were spectacular down to Swansea Bay with the North Devon Coast clearly visible. Even the Preselis in Pembrokeshire could be seen.

N.Devon in the distance!

We’ve now generated nearly 5 million kwh of clean power since the turbines were commissioned at the end of January.

Zoe and Millie the dog

Community Energy Fortnight also saw the release of State of the Sector report in Manchester last weekend, which showed the sector has mushroomed to a staggering £190 million.

Charging the car with windpower
  • At least 30,000 people have invested in community energy groups
  • The movement has built 188 MW of renewable energy capacity
  • Less than ten community energy organisations existed in 2010. 222 community energy groups now exist across the country

Most of the cash raised has been through co-operatives (186 of the 222 organisations surveyed were Community Benefit Societies, a form of co-op like Awel). This helps show a long-term grass-roots commitment to renewable energy.

Awel’s share offer is still open @5% annual return until the end of July. Do join us!

 

Awel Co-op Shortlisted For Major Industry Award

The Awel Coop community wind farm project near Swansea has been nominated in the ‘Community-Led Placemaking’ category at the 2017 Planning Awards.

The annual awards recognise outstanding work in areas such as infrastructure planning, stakeholder engagement and planning permissions, as well as placemaking, urban design, economic development, housing, regeneration, legal advice and environmental consulting.

Dan McCallum, Director said “We are delighted to be shortlisted. It took us 18 years to get this project through planning and built. It is important that the planning system takes more account of community placemaking as this was our vision right from the start. We wanted to harness a local asset, wind, to enable local regeneration. It’s wonderful now to see our turbines in place, generating clean power and we want to encourage more people to visit our site. We’re having an Open Day on July 4th between 4 – 8pm. Anyone is welcome to attend – please email info@awelamantawe.co.uk or call 01639 830870 to reserve a place. Wind-powered tea, coffee and welshcakes will be available!”

Owned by local Awel Co-op, the project consists of two 2.35MWh Enercon wind turbines which began production in January and are expected to generate an estimated 12,558 MWh of clean, low carbon, energy a year, enough to supply over 2000 homes.

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.

Dan added “In addition to Triodos, we want to thank our advisors who worked hard with us over many years to secure planning permission – Dulas, ADAS and our legal team at Burges Salmon.”

The co-op has also raised a further £2.3m through a local share offer, the largest ever in Wales. The share offer is aiming to raise £3m in total before the end of July which will enable it to refinance a Welsh Government loan.

The project 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.

The winners will be announced at Savoy Place in London on Wednesday 21st June.

 

Teaming up with 10:10 and new Open Day announced

It’s Community Energy Fortnight from June 24th – July 9th and all over the country there are events to galvanise support for clean power. To celebrate this and to draw attention to Global Wind Day (today!), we are opening up one of Awel’s turbines for people to see inside a wind turbine. So if you’ve always wanted to see what it’s like inside those towers, come along to our Open Day on July 4th. There’ll be wind-powered tea and coffee, and welshcakes!

It’s a drop-in event from 4pm to 8pm. The site is on Mynydd y Gwrhyd – about 5 miles north of Pontardawe and 20 miles north of Swansea with spectacular views. The nearest postcode is SA8 4TA and there is a map here. Parking is available so no walking is required. Please email info@awelamantawe.co.uk to reserve your place. We’ll be in the Queen of Hearts pub in Cwmgors afterwards to answer any other questions over a pint and chips!

We have also teamed up with the charity, 10:10, who are running a fantastic campaign to support wind energy in the UK. 10:10 have set up a crowdfunding appeal to buy £250 of shares in Awel Coop for Sajid Javid, the Minister with responsibility for wind energy policy and the new Shadow Secretary of State, Teresa Pearce. This will give key politicians a blast of Welsh community wind power and we hope it’ll help shape their future policies. You can see the campaign and support here.

There is still time to invest in our Share Offer and you can join us for a minimum of £50. We have raised nearly £2.3m so far of our £3m target and secured a £5.25m loan from Triodos Bank. Our ongoing Share Offer is being used to pay back a loan from Welsh Government – we are keen to refinance as Welsh Government is strongly committed to community renewables and this money can be used to support more projects.

Our turbines are generating ahead of prediction – 4,525,600 kWh so far since the turbines were commissioned on January 25th – enough to supply about 1000 homes for a year (pic of our meter here). Watch the stunning film of the turbines going up. Do read more on www.awel.coop  and complete an application form for shares! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us on 01639 830870 or email info@awelamantawe.co.uk.

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.

Share Offer breaks £2 million barrier

We are delighted to announce that our Share Offer has gone above £2 million which is the highest ever in Wales to our knowledge. Over 800 individuals have invested, but we received a particular boost with the support of the Friends Provident Foundation who invested £100,000. This is the maximum single investment allowed under a co-op Share Offer and represents a strong endorsement of our work.

Colin Baines, Investment Engagement Manager at Friends Provident Foundation said “We are pleased to be making our first direct investment in community energy by joining the Awel wind co-op. We view the transformative potential of community energy to be huge, not just in terms of low carbon transition but also regarding local economic and community resilience. We are particularly impressed with how the community took this project from inception to planning to generation themselves; no small feat that should maximise the project’s community value. Awel also has the right location, technology and expertise, plus a fair return on investment, which together with its social and environmental benefits, means it is a perfect investment for a foundation like ours that seeks to use its assets to progress its charitable objectives.”

Dan McCallum from Awel Co-op said “We are delighted to welcome Friends Provident Foundation as a member of our co-op.” Friends Provident funds a range of great projects across the UK and has a strong Vision “We want to help build a just and sustainable world where everybody can live meaningful lives, with respect and care for ourselves, each other and the planet. We believe that the purpose of money and the economy is to enable and serve human flourishing and a healthy environment, and that currently they do not. We work through grants, investments and our own activities, seeking to create a fairer economy that serves us all.”

Dan added “Six other charities have also chosen to invest in our community wind farm including the Environmental Justice Foundation and Vision 21 – we think it’s really important that charities follow strong ethical guidelines and invest in community energy. We would encourage other charities to do the same – it also will help engage them directly in onshore wind energy as one of the cheapest ways to generate energy to combat climate change, and projected to be the cheapest by 2025. This is according to the UK Government – we have to ask then, why is the government supporting fracking and nuclear which are far more expensive for the consumer and damage the planet?”

Horsepower! (picture by Awel member, Mike Harrison)

Directors of Awel have now decided to extend the Share Offer in order to refinance a £1.2m Welsh Government loan. This is a 15 year loan @7.5% interest so it will be better for the co-op members to refinance this through Shares. We will be keeping the interest rate for Shares @5% as per the existing offer.

We hope other charities will join us.

Awel and NEF call for additional Government support for Show Homes as inspiration for domestic retrofit

In its most recent study, the National Energy Foundation demonstrates the benefits of Show Homes in promoting energy savings through retrofit and renovation, and calls on the Government to provide additional support.

Following the publication of the Bonfield Review (Each Home Counts) at the end of last year (which avoided the issue of stimulating extra demand for domestic energy efficiency retrofit) the National Energy Foundation launches a new study on the effectiveness of Show Homes. The new report Show Homes: An effective force for inspiring domestic retrofit looks at how Show Homes can be used very effectively to raise public awareness of energy efficiency and renewable energy measures, and how they can generate interest among visitors who might then go on to install similar measures in their own homes.

Show Homes are shown to raise awareness of what is possible and take visitors from inspiration to action. The benefits provided by Show Homes are almost endless and are felt throughout the supply chain – by Government, the consumer and the population as a whole.

In particular, the study identifies the award-winning SuperHomes project as a beacon of inspiration for homeowners. SuperHomes are a nationwide network of over 200 owner-occupied properties that have been renovated by their owners (SuperHomers) to save at least 60% of their carbon emissions. Celebrating their 10th year in 2017, SuperHomes have the advantage of showcasing a combination of energy efficiency measures.

Each year, SuperHomers open their homes to the public in a series of Open House events and, over the years, tens of thousands of visitors have walked through the doors of these homes, with a large number going on to undertake their own energy-efficient renovations. Three in five visitors say it is very likely they will improve the energy efficiency of their homes following a visit to a SuperHome.

SuperHomes have caught the attention of BBC Radio 4 and will be featured on the Costing the Earth programme, scheduled for late April. The programme will focus on improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s housing stock. Two SuperHomers will be interviewed about the measures they’ve installed to achieve their 60% reduction target, and how they have changed the energy efficiency and comfort of their homes.

Launching the report, Gabby Mallett, Director of Households and Communities at the National Energy Foundation, commented:

“If this Government is serious about cutting carbon emissions and renovating our aged housing stock, as well as reducing fuel poverty, it needs to address the issue, so clearly avoided by the Bonfield review,  and stimulate some demand. What better way to do that than by supporting initiatives such as Show Homes, which have been shown to work?”

50,000kWh? It was actually 72,000 kWh!

Enough to supply 22 houses for a year with electricity.

In fact, our turbines are beating all projections from January to March. We knew it was a good site (i.e windy!) and that Enercon are state of the art turbines. So far, they’ve generated 2,190,555kWh. See a pic of our meter.

This works out as a daily average of £2,706 of generation as compared to the most optimistic (P50) projection in our Financial Model which was £2,493.

This is despite the fact that the turbines were under test for much of this period so there were days when one or both weren’t working as Enercon staff were tweaking them inside.

We’re going to be looking into how best to put more of our data into the public domain over the next couple of months. We think it’s vital that we present the business case for onshore wind energy, and how much cheaper it is than fracking and nuclear (+ a whole load of other arguments…)