First community wind turbine launched in UK

Posted: 7 April 2003

The latest wind turbine to be erected in Wales (in April 2003), marks a radical new direction for renewable energy production in the United Kingdom: local community ownership. There are already many wind turbines across the British Isles, but this one is unique. It is not owned by a large, energy company: it is owned and managed by the surrounding community.

Community turbineCommunity wind turbine, Wales.© CATThe idea for the project was born three years ago at a community meeting in Pantperthog Village Hall. After some initial research, grant money was raised for the project and the Bro Dyfi Community Renewables group was set up. Almost 60 local people became members of the partnership, each investing money for the realisation of the project. It was such a popular scheme that, to allow as many people to invest as had applied, the maximum investment was reduced from £20,000 to £1,000 (US$1,500).

Shareholders at the launch of the Bro DyfiCommunity Wind Turbine.© Centre for Alternative TechnologyThe single 75 kW wind turbine is near Machynlleth, above the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT). CAT will buy all the power generated (around 163 MWh each year). It will use about half of this to supply its site with electricity and hot water and export the rest to the local grid. This means that the benefits will stay in the community and the people who have invested in the turbine will also be able to use the generated energy.

The project's advantages are social, financial and environmental. As the energy is sold, shareholders will receive a dividend on their investment. The electricity generated by the wind turbine will slow climate change by preventing the release into the atmosphere of 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year.

A community regeneration group called ecodyfi steered the project and obtained a European grant for it. Their Director, Andy Rowland, said "It's great to see people fighting climate change and strengthening their local economy by taking energy production into their own hands like this."