Forces of nature

Wind and hydro projects from our Community Energy Challenge groups

26 March 2015

Last week we updated you on the progress of one of the groups who took part in the Co-operative Community Energy Challenge groups, Springbok Co-op (formerly Wey Valley Woodfuel), who launched a share offer to fund a community biomass project. We’ve since had exciting news from another two groups.

Sustainable Oakenshaw have succeded in their ambition to erect a 70m wind turbine on a farm on the outskirts of the town in County Durham which will earn funds for the benefit of the local community.To show appreciation for the work the community group carried out to gain planning permission and boost public support, the landowner who also owns the turbine itself will give 20 annual donations to Oakenshaw Community Association. Following a residents’ survey, the income has been allocated to village improvements such as footpaths, road safety signs and wooden planters to be stocked with flowers.

John Spencer, chair of Oakenshaw Community Association says the project has been “a roller coaster ride...finally, with one day to spare, the turbine received its certificate to obtain the FiT (Feed in Tariff)”  – the turbine was approved for the FiT tariff in the nick of time before the rate was lowered.  

County Councillor Olwyn Gunn attended the brisk January opening ceremony and praised the project as “an excellent example of the benefits and positive impact a Community Association can bring and have on the neighbourhood, the environment and the community as a whole."

And in news from Wales, Anafon Energy (Abergwyngregen) ended their share offer a couple of weeks ago and raised £448,000 for a hydro project on the River Anafon. This surpassed their goal of £300,000 and so will reduce the amount that needs to be borrowed as a more expensive loan. The annual generation is expected to be around 957 MWh, enough to supply roughly 230 households and to offset more than 19,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the first 40 years of its life. Any profit from the sale and export of electricity will be invested to support energy efficiency and social initiatives in Abergwyngregyn and the wider local community. Construction starts in April.

Congratulations to those involved in both projects. These are great successes and set a fantastic precedent for future community renewables projects.

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