CARMARTHENSHIRE Energy Ltd (CEL)’s launch project was Carmarthenshire’s first community-owned turbine.
The Salem 500kW turbine began turning in 2016, at the time it was Wales’s largest community energy installation. It was quickly generating income and providing energy to power over 1,000 homes a year. This has enabled CEL to start giving back directly to the county.
An early CEL beneficiary was the Memorial Hall at Salem. The project was funded to ensure long-term benefits by installing solar panels (10kW) and battery storage (5kWh) so the energy produced by the panels can be used day and night; it also powers the charge point for electric vehicles that CEL recently installed.
The Salem community have further been inspired to install low energy lighting solutions and a heat pump that will effectively eradicate energy bills for much of the year. CEL have also rebuilt 8m of drystone wall, using local skills and replanted for biodiversity.
To mark this fist and important step in working with communities to decarbonise the county, Carmarthenshire Energy had an official launch on Monday 17th December at Salem Hall. CEL Chair, Greg Parker, was pleased to unveil the new information board and wall plaque to celebrate the outcomes and to highlight Wales’ first zero carbon community hall.
Greg Parker said: “We are so pleased to be able to give back to the community that is the home of our first wind turbine. The turbine itself has generated energy to power over 1,000 homes a year since it started spinning over two years ago. It has been heartening to see how Salem Hall has embraced renewable energy and worked closely with us to make their own hall as efficient as possible. This is a pioneer project that we hope will be replicated around the country. The combination of actively working to reduce climate change, supporting fuel poverty initiatives and keeping money within our communities could be the model the whole of Wales adopts to make us an energy-secure nation. Today has given me more confidence that we can do this by working together.”
By generating their own energy, Carmarthenshire Energy Ltd (CEL) are giving their community ownership, profit and security.
Peter Harries, Chair at Salem Memorial Hall said: “We have been keen to do more to ensure our hall is as efficient as possible. This brings down costs for the community and educates young and old alike on the benefits of renewable energy. It’s a working example of what can be done by working in partnership and as a community we are spreading the message and working towards making our community truly resilient.”
Salem Hall is now generating and storing its own energy. This means the community hall now has very low energy costs and it can earn an income from any excess energy and the feed-in tariff; a significant 20 year income stream from the installation.
Councillor Emlyn Dole, Leader of Carmarthenshire County Council commented on the CEL results to date: “It has been great to see the development of the local project. We obviously live in a county that has abundant natural resources that we can capture for the benefit of our residents. This project is a real success story for our County. Carmarthenshire Energy Ltd will benefit our hard-pressed citizens directly. For example, Salem Hall and other projects have already been funded. I’m pleased that Carmarthenshire is one of the counties leading on such positive climate change solutions that have direct local benefits.”
CEL are working on new partnerships to build more resilient communities. They are currently working on other schemes, such as energy efficiency measures for Ferryside Life Boat Station, as well as a project to install electric car charge points around Carmarthenshire in conjunction with the County Council. They are also working with several communities to measure current energy consumption, this will give communities the tools to plan a path to low carbon living.
In practice, the most cost-effective way of reducing our reliance on energy is to reduce our demand. We can do that by changing our habits, and by taking up technologies, such as low energy lighting, smart meters or electric cars.