The Awel y Gwrhyd community wind farm project near Swansea has 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.
Owned by local community society 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 is located on Mynydd y Gwrhyd, close to the town of Pontardawe and about 20 miles north of Swansea. The investment in the former coal mining community follows an extensive due diligence process.
Dan McCallum, one of Awel Co-op's directors, said: "We are delighted that Triodos, the leading sustainable bank in the UK, has decided to provide us with a 15 year loan. Triodos has been a key backer of the UK's very exciting community energy sector for many years, and this is the first time that they've been able to invest in an energy co-op in Wales."
The co-op has also raised a further £2.26m through a local share offer which will, in part, enable it to refinance a Welsh Government loan of £1.2m. The share offer is aiming to raise £3m in total before the end of July.
Dan added: "We want to acknowledge the critical role that Welsh Government played in providing us with initial bridging finance of £3.55m that helped to get our project built. This has not only enabled us to undertake our share offer, which has so far raised £2.26m, but has also helped us in securing finance from Triodos. This project is a perfect example of how government support can facilitate community engagement and help lever finance into one of the most deprived areas of the UK.
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.
Triodos Bank been operating in the UK for over 22 years and only lends money to organisations that are making a positive difference to society and are doing good, be it socially, culturally or environmentally. The bank lends over £700m to organisations and projects ranging from charities, community schemes and social housing providers, to organic farmers, homelessness programmes and renewable energy projects.
Steve Moore, Relationship Manager, Triodos Bank, said: "Having worked with this project for a number of years, it is great to see it coming to fruition. Community engagement has always been at the heart of the scheme and this has been reflected in the success of the share offer amongst local people. All community projects are about people and this is no exception - Dan and his team 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 McCallum said: "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."
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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 36 banks seeking to transform finance into a vehicle of positive influence.
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