Nestled in a valley between the beautiful mountains of Snowdonia, the people of Afon Goch have harnessed the power of the landscape through a new community energy scheme, Ynni Padarn Peris.
Commuinity energy is when a group of people come together to generate, manage or own their energy. Through selling the power they generate, they can reinvest the profits to benefit the community.
Making the most of the mountainous landscape and ample rainfall, the community at Afon Goch is now generating their own power through a hydro-electricity scheme consisting of just three elements: a weir at the top of the mountain, a small turbine at the bottom (the size of a washing machine) and a generator, housed in a small shed at the nearby hostel. Here, the energy from the weir is converted into electricity and exported to the local grid.
We buy this 100% green electricity from the Afon Goch community, and they will reinvest the money raised to benefit local people in the heart of Snowdonia.
To find out more, we spoke to Keith Jones, who headed up the team that made it all happen.
How did the idea come about?
We wanted to develop a project that would benefit the local area. And of course it was always going to be a hydro scheme. We live in a steep sided part of the world, and we have the odd drop of rain too!
Ynni means energy in Welsh. Padarn Peris defines the main lakes in the area. It’s locally owned, in fact 90% of the shareholders are within 15 miles of the site.
How did you raise the money for the scheme?
It was completely crowdfunded by the local community. It was so popular that we were able to send £50,000 over the mountain to help fund another community hydro project too.
What has been the reaction from local community?
It’s been incredibly positive. We get to control what happens, rather than others coming in and telling us what to do! And our profits will go straight back into local communities.
Our shareholders will get a return, plus we plan to set up a charity with the other community hydro in the next valley. The money raised will help tackle fuel poverty and fund ways to make the community even more sustainable.
Why choose Bristol Energy to work with on the scheme?
We like the whole ethos behind Bristol energy as it emulates our own ‘do something about it’ sort of approach. It’s about people helping people. Bristol Energy also offered one of the best deals too. So values, and value.
How does it feel personally to see the scheme working?
This is my first community scheme in ‘my valley’ – so this one feels like my fourth child! (I have three kids)
And why support renewable energy?
We have an infinite appetite for energy, but within a finite world. I would like to hand back to my children a world in a better state than I got it. I shudder when I think what kind of world my future great grandchildren will inherit. So let’s do something about it now, and not wait. What have we got to lose by going for cheaper green energy?
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