The first community-owned solar farm in Wales is offering Swansea businesses the opportunity to plug into locally produced green energy whilst supporting grassroots community projects on their doorstep.
Gower Power Solar Storage, a project made possible with funding from the Development Bank of Wales together with support from Welsh Government Energy Service and European Regional Development Funds, will enable up to 300 local businesses and homes to be supplied with green energy from the solar farm owned 100 percent by community benefit society, Gower Regeneration Ltd. All profits from the project will be ploughed back into local grassroots community projects.
The 1MW solar farm at Killan Fach Farm, Dunvant, began generating power on March 31st 2017 and became the first community-owned solar farm in Wales after a successful share offer raised around £900,000 from ethical investors, mainly in the Swansea area.
Gower Power Solar Storage has teamed up with leading green fuel provider Ecotricity as part of the project, and they will provide the necessary customer services and billing. Ecotricity will be able to top up any electricity that isn’t generated onsite with 100 percent renewable sources, and also offer Gower Power Solar Storage business customers carbon neutralised gas.
It is expected that the solar farm will generate clean, renewable electricity for 30 years, and over time will produce a surplus of around half a million pounds.
Ant Flanagan of Gower Power said: “We are delighted to launch this offer for Swansea businesses. We know from our research that businesses are prioritising green practices and are keen to continue to embed them in their operations. This is an important part of their CSR practices, it is a real selling point to younger recruits into their firms and increasingly, it makes sound business sense. We hope firms in the Swansea area will look at the offer we are making and consider plugging into the new tariff as a hassle-free way of making their operations greener, cleaner and more community focused.
“Many people will be aware of Gower Power, which has been a successful community run project for years. Everything we do is designed to support local community initiatives – particularly those which don’t always find it easy to get funding – and this green energy tariff will support this important work by ploughing profits back into these projects.
“We are pleased to have won the support of the Development Bank of Wales and the Welsh Government Energy Service, both of whom see this scheme as a forward thinking one for Wales. We would encourage business who are interested in a cleaner, greener way of working and doing some good for their local community, to register with Gower Power today. We are only able to support 300 businesses and homes so we would urge businesses to take this opportunity now before it’s too late.”
Businesses can register by visiting https://www.gowerpower.coop/switchbusiness/
Dale Vince, Ecotricity CEO, said, “It’s great to be working with a community energy company whose ethos is so well-matched with our own at Ecotricity. It is fantastic to be able to help businesses decarbonise their energy use and help local communities benefit from the profits generated from green electricity sales – shifting the way that the energy market has operated for so long.”
Julie James, Minister for Climate Change, said: “The Welsh Government has set targets of producing 1GW of locally owned community energy by 2030. Projects like Gower Power Solar Storage are vital in helping us reach these targets and seeing communities benefit from a prosperous, net zero economy. I would like to congratulate everyone at Gower Power Solar Storage and wish them the very best for the future as they lead the way
supplying electricity to local consumers and businesses from Wales’ first community-owned solar farm and hope to see many others follow their path in the future.”
Nicola Griffiths of the Development Bank of Wales said: “Renewable energy schemes like Gower Power Solar Storage have long-term environmental, social and economic benefits for the people of Wales. Indeed, we are able to support renewable energy projects with up to £5 million from the Local Energy Loan Fund as part of our efforts to develop a low-carbon economy in Wales.”
In time, members of the community benefit society will decide which local projects and enterprises will benefit from any surplus income generated by the farm. Gower Power Co-op CIC is already supporting numerous local projects with funding raised similarly, from sales of green electricity from solar assets elsewhere in Swansea.