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.
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!
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).
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!