A community hydro plant has become operational at Cambrian Village Trust benefitting the long-term security of the facility, whilst safeguarding the future enjoyment for thousands of people who visit each year.
Cambrian Village Trust, based on the banks of Cwmclydach Country Park, acquired the plant in April last year after the project was moth-balled by another organisation. Working in partnership with engineering and electrical contractors, the team has worked hard to bring the site into use and is already reporting a positive impact.
The hydro plant is directly connected to the café at the site and has significantly reduced costs to the charity, whilst generating excess energy which is hoped to be utilised locally in Wales.
The project was made possible after funding of £18,500 was secured from Pennant Walters. The money provided is from the fund linked to two wind farms in the Gilfach Goch and Blackmill areas, Pant y Wal in the county of Bridgend, and Fforch Nest, which straddles the border of Bridgend and Rhondda Cynon Taf. The two sites have a total of 21 turbines producing 53 megawatts of clean electricity – enough to power the equivalent of 25,000 homes. It builds on previous donations which have seen Pennant provide money to support various local community groups.
Mark Stevenson, Board Member at Cambrian Village Trust, was heavily involved in bringing the plant into operation. He said:
“The connection between the hydro plant and the café couldn't have come at a more critical time for the organisation. Our energy contracts are up this month and we obtained quotes and they were looking to increase three-fold, which, for us a charity, is unsustainable.
“There’s no doubt that this would have impacted the work of the Trust, and the sustainability of the café, which has a huge knock-on effect on employment and the community as a whole.”
The hydro plant is already generating more electricity than it requires and between 40 – 60% of what is generated, is being exported.
Mark continued: “To bring this to fruition has been a lifeline for us. Not only does it allow us to reduce our carbon footprint, but it also reduces our annual spend on electricity. We are now working with Dwr Cymru Welsh Water and are hopeful we will secure a deal on the excess energy we export so that the plant’s benefit is far wider reaching in Wales.
“We are thankful to Pennant Walters for their support and funding to allow us to bring this project to life. We are probably one of few organisations that continue to hope for rain!”
Buffy Williams, Rhondda MS, said:
“The future of energy in this country has to be renewables. Knowing the benefit the hydro brings not only to Cambrian Village Trust, but to the wider community, I couldn’t be more thankful to Pennant Walters for their support in ensuring we will benefit from the hydro long into the future.”
Pennant Walters Managing Director, Dale Hart, added:
“This is a fantastic project that has such far-reaching benefits. The project team has continued to work tirelessly with the sole aim of securing the long-term future of the facility.
“Projects like this are a true reflection of why our community benefit fund exists – to benefit local organisations and communities for years to come.”