Dan McCallum, co-founder of Awel Aman Tawe, has been recognised in the New Year’s Honours List with an MBE for services to community energy in Wales.
This is great recognition for our own community wind farm and for the work our staff, volunteers and Trustees have put in over the past 18 years. Our project has become part of a movement in Wales to secure more community ownership of renewable energy which now involves many people and organisations. It has been tough to develop our project, but inspiring to now see many projects being developed by communities throughout Wales.
Pic by Mike Harrison, Awel Co-op member
Community energy has the unique potential to bring together communities together in the struggle to combat climate change, and also to keep funding from their energy resources, within those communities.
Awel Co-op commissioned its 4.7MW wind farm in January 2017. The project has generated more than 10GW of electricity, enough to supply about 2500 homes per year. It has raised over £2.5m from a community share offer, the highest ever in Wales, and is looking to raise £3m so the project is owned by as many people and organisations in Wales as possible. The wind farm has a capital value of £8.25m and is co-funded by a £5.25m loan from Triodos.
The community energy story is ongoing in Wales and people can still join it. Our own share offer is still open on www.awel.coop, and other exciting projects which have open share offers or are about to launch new offers include www.ynniteg.cymru , Carmarthenshire Energy, www.egni.coop and www.gowerpower.coop The work spans all technologies including wind, hydro and exciting local supply innovation Ynni Ogwen. There has also been award winning collaboration between local authorities such Swansea Council and Swansea Community Energy . Moving forward, there is an exciting new joint venture on the Alwens forest in N.Wales between Innogy and Community Energy Wales which will see a 15% community stake in the proposed new wind farm there.
Welsh Government also deserves recognition as it has backed all the above projects through the Ynni Lleol programme of funding and advice. It has also given policy support with the new target for local energy of 1GW by 2030 and all renewables to have an element of local ownership by 2020. This has helped draw in additional resources into the community energy sector such as Robert Owen Community Banking, Triodos Bank and the Development Bank of Wales.