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Clean energy windfall for Amman Valley school and community groups

Awel Co-op wind farm in the Amman Valley will be gifting over £30,000 worth of shares to local community groups this Christmas.

One of the first beneficiaries is Tairgwaith Primary School  which received £500 worth of shares and a certificate of ownership during a recent visit by Year 5 and 6 pupils.

The school visit features in a short film, available to view here:

The wind farm, located about 20 miles north of Swansea, was commissioned in January having secured £5.25m from Triodos, Europe’s leading sustainable bank; one of the largest investments ever seen in the Amman Valley.

As well as providing enough clean energy to power 2,500 homes each year, the two 2.35MWh wind turbines generate revenue which is then reinvested in the local community.

In addition to Tairgwaith’s donation, the community co-op which owns the wind farm has gifted £500 worth of shares each to Tiddlywinks Nursery in Ystalyfera, Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers and Canolfan Maerdy, a local regeneration charity. A further £30,000 worth of shares has been earmarked for local community groups.

Tiddlywinks visiting their turbines

Founding director Dan McCallum, who was recently presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Renew Wales in recognition of his pioneering work tackling climate change, explains: “Awel Co-op wind farm is a community energy project and we want our turbines to be owned by as many local people and groups as possible. We were delighted to be in a position to donate shares to Tairgwaith Primary School who will enjoy a projected 5% return per year for 20 years on their £500 investment.

The wind farm is already a fantastic educational resource, teaching the next generation about the importance of sustainability, but we wanted to go one step further. Now Tairgwaith pupils will be able to visit the site whenever they want to and say, ‘we own those windmills!’.

 Of course, none of this would be possible without the financial backing of Triodos Bank, who have been with us every step of the way and continue to support us as we reach another milestone, the end of our first full year of operation.

 Our share offer is still open to the public until we reach our target of £3 million. To date, we’ve raised £2.5 million. Visit www.awel.coop if you’d like to join us!

Steve Moore, Relationship Manager at Triodos Bank UK, said: “At Triodos Bank, we invest in people and projects that are bringing about positive environmental and social change.

 Awel Co-op epitomises sustainability – providing enough clean energy to supply thousands of homes as well as generating revenue for schools and community groups – and we are extremely proud to be a part of this very special story.

Triodos Bank, having launched a new personal current account this year, was so inspired by the work of Awel Co-op, they took one of their customers, Kathryn Chandler, who lives in Swansea, to meet Dan and Tairgwaith pupils and see the turbines first hand.

Kathryn was delighted to discover that the money she invests is helping to generate clean energy for local homes. She explained: “I bank with Triodos because they are an ethical bank and I wanted to choose a bank that I believe in and that’s investing money in projects I believe in.

Triodos are transparent about where they put their money and who they lend to and it’s important to me that I’m saving with a bank that’s considering the benefits for other people, as well as myself.

Other local projects financed by Triodos Bank include Baglan Community Church in Port Talbot, Glangarnant Nursing Home in Ammanford, Rhuddin Housing Co-operative in Kidwelly and Ty’r Eithin Farm in Llanelli.

To find out more about Triodos Bank and the projects they invest in, please visit triodos.co.uk/changemakers. To find our more about Awel Co-op, visit www.awel.coop

-Ends-

For further information please contact:

Faye Holst – 07521 898 970 – faye.holst@greenhousepr.co.uk

Helen Bell – 07880 560 233 – helen.bell@greenhousepr.co.uk

About Triodos Bank

Triodos Bank is a global pioneer in sustainable banking using the power of finance to invest in projects that are good for people and the planet. Triodos uses its €13.5 billion (2016) in assets to create social, environmental and cultural value in a transparent and sustainable way.

With UK operations based in Bristol, Triodos Bank has branches in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Germany and an agency in France. Globally, Triodos Bank has microfinance projects in Central Asia and Eastern Europe, and is a founding member of the Global Alliance for Banking on Values (GABV), a worldwide network of 43 banks seeking to transform finance into a vehicle of positive influence.

www.triodos.co.uk

www.knowwhereyourmoneygoes.co.uk

www.twitter.com/triodosuk

www.facebook.com/triodosbankuk

About Awel Co-op

Awel is a community benefit society established in September 2015 by Awel Aman Tawe, a community energy charity.

Our turbines are situated on Mynydd y Gwrhyd, which is 20 miles north of Swansea. The turbines are forecast to generate an estimated 12,404 MWh of clean energy annually, enough to supply over 2,500 homes per year. This will generate about £3m over the next 25 years of the wind farm to fund low carbon projects in the community.

http://awel.coop

Triodos Bank NV (incorporated under the laws of the Netherlands with limited liability, registered in England and Wales BR3012). Authorised by the Dutch Central Bank and subject to limited regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority. Details about the extent of our regulation by the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority are available from us on request

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.

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.