Renewable energy powers sustainable communities

Keith Jones talks to Abergwyngregyn villagers about the hydro scheme © National Trust

Keith Jones talks to Abergwyngregyn villagers about the hydro scheme

Latest update 16.09.2013 10:56

Our new research highlights more than ever that community owned renewables deliver social benefits as well as economic and environmental ones.

Organisations partnering with communities in order to help develop renewable energy projects prove to be a winning formula.

Research by 2012 Clore Social Fellow, Mark Walton, on Anafon Community Hydro Scheme in Abergwyngregyn shows communities generating their own energy have stronger resilience, autonomy, empowerment, education, sense of place and local economy.

Read the full report

In the space of 40 years, the rural Welsh village of Abergwyngregyn lost its shops, petrol station, pub and much of its social fabric. In the last 10 years one group of residents have successfully fundraised for the renovation of an old mill, which now houses a community café and snooker hall.

Now, with the development of the £1m 270kW hydro, enough energy will be generated to power the whole village. Surplus money will be reinvested into the community and plans for college bursaries, children’s play area, as well as a village pub are all on the cards.

Keith Jones, our environmental advisor who first approached the village a few years ago with the partnership idea, said:

'Working with Abergwyngregyn village to develop the hydro scheme has been incredibly exciting and a great learning curve for everyone involved. Our expertise paired with a track record for delivery and willingness to make it happen has created a powerful partnership and opened the floodgates for further collaboration.

'We’re already working with the town of Bethesda to look into restoring an old 1929 quarry hydro, which we hope to go through feasibility in the next few months. If more organisations like us are willing to support these kinds of projects then the potential for community energy could be huge.'

On the development of the hydro scheme, Hywel Thomas, chairman of the community group, said:

'Support from the community has been fantastic. When it first began there were only a few members, but 60 people came to a meeting last month and all were in favour of the hydro, it was overwhelming.'

We're supporting more community energy projects like this by backing the ‘Community Energy Fortnight’, 24 August – 8 September.