ARKANSAS, Oct 6 (Future Headlines)- Renewable energy is taking center stage in the quest for sustainable and community-driven power solutions. Gower Power, a pioneering Community Interest Company, is spearheading a community share offer for the Brynwhilach solar farm, a 4.99-megawatt (MW) solar facility located in Swansea, Wales. The aim is to raise over £2.7 million in community benefits, marking a significant milestone in empowering local communities through renewable energy projects.
Brynwhilach solar farm has been operational since 2017 and has consistently exceeded its generation targets. According to the Community Interest Company, it boasts an impressive annual generation of 4.8 gigawatt-hours (GWh), contributing to clean energy production while reducing carbon emissions. This achievement underscores the viability and effectiveness of solar energy in addressing climate change and powering communities.
Over the past five years, Gower Power has harnessed the surplus funds generated by Brynwhilach solar farm, amounting to over £55,000. These funds have been strategically deployed to support local initiatives and environmental causes, exemplifying the positive impact of community-driven renewable energy projects.
To expand the community’s involvement in renewable energy, Gower Power has initiated a community share offer for Brynwhilach solar farm. This investment opportunity allows individuals to become shareholders in the solar farm with a minimum investment of £250. The overarching objective is to raise £385,000 to further enhance the project’s reach and impact.
The share offer is open until October 27, 2023, although it may close earlier if fully subscribed. This initiative embodies the principles of community-driven renewable energy, enabling residents and supporters to actively participate in the sustainable energy transition.
Once under community ownership, Brynwhilach solar farm is poised to significantly enhance its community contributions. It is estimated that the solar farm will generate more than £2.7 million in community benefits over the next 23 years. These benefits will encompass a wide array of initiatives and projects that will directly enrich the lives of local residents and promote environmental well-being.
Gower Power’s vision extends beyond the Brynwhilach solar farm. The funds raised through the community share offer will serve as a catalyst for developing additional renewable energy projects. Moreover, they will be instrumental in establishing nature-oriented health and well-being interventions that align with the broader goals of sustainability and community prosperity.
Mary Sherwood, Gower Power’s Grants and Development Manager, emphasized the multifaceted benefits of Brynwhilach solar farm, stating, “Brynwhilach contributes to all Well-Being Goals for Wales; supporting us to become more equal, healthy, prosperous, cohesive, resilient, and globally responsible, while continuing our cultural heritage of self-sufficiency and co-operative enterprise.” This holistic approach reflects the project’s commitment to fostering a well-rounded and inclusive community.
Julie James, the Minister for Climate Change for the Welsh government, expressed her enthusiasm for Gower Power’s groundbreaking initiative. She underscored the importance of community ownership in retaining energy expenditure within Wales, thereby promoting a sustainable economic model and energy-sourcing strategy. This alignment with Wales’ Well-being Goals and Net Zero targets reinforces the project’s role in advancing a more sustainable and resilient energy landscape.
Situated in Swansea, the Brynwhilach solar farm occupies land owned by a local landowner. The site encompasses a mixture of grade 3b and 5 agricultural land, representing moderate to very poor quality terrain. This choice of location highlights the adaptability of solar energy solutions, as they can thrive on various types of land, including those traditionally deemed unsuitable for agriculture.
Gower Power’s initiative is part of Community Energy Together (CET), a collaborative effort involving five community energy groups in England and Wales. CET’s overarching goal is to facilitate the transfer of seven operational solar farms into community ownership, amplifying the positive impact of community-driven renewable energy projects. As the renewable energy sector continues to evolve, initiatives like these serve as exemplars of the transformative power of community-driven sustainability.
Reporting by Kevin Wood; Editing by Sarah White