Community Boosting Solar Power in South Wales

A community group, based in the South Wales valleys are working to help the area benefit from solar power by installing solar panels on seven key community buildings.

glynneath

The Egni (Welsh for “energy”) Co operative was founded in March 2013 as a branch of Awel Aman Tawe, a community renewable energy charity based in South Wales, who have been working to introduce renewable energy in the area for the past 15 years. The project aims to bring solar power to community buildings in areas which may not ordinarily have the opportunity to benefit due to costs. The aim is to install solar panels on seven community buildings by summer 2014.

The Egni project is based on and funded by community ownership, and members are hoping to raise £155,000 through shares owned by locals. The shares bring potential benefits to the owners, including a 50% tax break and a 4% return on investment.

Egni aim to install solar panels on seven buildings: the Brynaman Public Hall and Cinema, the Dove Workshop in Banwen, the Ystradowen Community Centre, the Awel Aman Tawe building in Cwmllynfell, the Black Mountain Centre in Brynaman, the Glynneath Training Centre and the Abercraf and District Miner’s Welfare Institute.

All buildings involved play a crucial role within their local communities. The Dove Workshop, for example, offers training for adults seeking education and training, as well as advice on starting up a business. The Ystradowen community centre provides a range of activities including luncheon clubs and mother and toddler sessions, which also play an important role in supporting the community.

The new solar panels will total 105kWp and should save 1000 tonnes of carbon throughout the lifetime of the panels.

The buildings will use electricity generated by the solar panels, and feed any excess electricity back to the grid, reducing carbon and allowing them to receive payment through a Feed In Tariff.

To ensure that the panels installed are as efficient as possible, work has already taken place to ensure each building in suitable for solar technology to be fitted. All sites have roofs facing within 30 degrees of south, have completed structural surveys ensuring they can support PV technology, carry energy performance certificates and have no significant shading issues.

Engi are encouraging those from local communities to consider investing in the project, promoting the potential benefits of a 50% tax rebate on every investment, as well as the projected return of 4%. But the benefits of investing reach beyond money. Local investment in renewables has a positive impact, resulting in:

  • More renewable energy in use

  • A greater sense of acceptance of renewable energy

  • Greater awareness of environmental issues and renewable energy

  • A stronger local economy

  • Better performing technologies for less cost

  • An opportunity to educate more people about renewable energy

  • A sense of responsibility shared by the whole community

Image sourced: Jaggery

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