Meirionnydd FUW member diversifies into wind energy
Farmers' Union of Wales president Emyr Jones and other union officials have visited a Snowdonia farm to see how a small scale wind turbine helps generate power for the National Grid and ensures the farm is almost self-sufficient for its electricity requirements.
Rhydycriw farm, Llanegryn, near Tywyn, has been in FUW member Alwyn Roberts's family since 1943 and now holds 27 cattle, mainly Welsh Black, and 24 followers, as well as 350 Aberdale sheep, 200 Welsh Mountain sheep, 90 Aberdale ewe lambs and 40 Welsh Mountain ewe lambs.
The 300-acre family farm run by third generation farmer Mr Roberts and his wife Karen is now almost energy self-sufficient after the installation of a 5 kW wind turbine.
It is the first time planning permission for a wind turbine on a hillside location has been granted within Snowdonia National Park.
The new MCS accredited Evance R9000 turbine will produce on average 12 to 14 thousand kilowatt hours a year for the Roberts family and will reduce the farm's carbon footprint by around five tonnes of CO2 per annum.
“On average the family household uses seven to nine thousand kilowatt hours of energy per year, not including what is used on the farm. By installing the wind turbine we are now almost energy self-sufficient and can also sell energy back to the National Grid,” said Mr Roberts.
“We spent around £32,000 to complete the project but it will generate an extra income of about £5,000 a year from the renewable energy we feed back into the National Grid.
“I have been thinking about using green energy on the farm for some time and two years ago I visited an open day organised by Organic Centre Wales and it became clear that wind power was the best option for our location.
“The planning process was fairly frustrating, which is why I can only advise those who are thinking of investing in renewable energy to get professional advice and support to guide them through the planning process.
"We are very thankful that we had the professional assistance of small-scale wind turbine installer Paul Burrell whose expertise in managing the entire planning process on our behalf was invaluable. Especially as we are in a more sensitive and protected area.
“Another point which influenced my decision to invest in renewable energy is the uncertainty of the farming industry at the moment, so it is vital to look at other forms of income and diversify.
“A lot of wind sites in the UK are foreign owned, which is why we need to make sure that we protect our assets or else we lose them.
"Renewable energy is supported by both the Welsh and UK governments but interpretations of policy from local governments and other organisations can make the process incredibly complicated. Perseverance is key in projects like this,” added Mr Roberts.
Mr Burrell, of Machynlleth-based Anemos Renewables LLP, said: “There are three financial benefits from installing a wind turbine. Firstly, you will be paid a fixed rate for every unit of electricity that you generate over the next 20 years, the prices for which are Retail Price Index linked.
"Secondly, any electricity you don’t use can be exported to the National Grid with an additional payment for every kWh that you export, in addition to the generation tariff.
"Thirdly, as the electricity from your turbine is being generated by the wind, the power can be used in your home or business so your electricity bills will be substantially reduced.
“Location is very important for wind turbines. It has to be a good unobstructed site to make sure you get maximum performance from the turbine.
"National Parks are always sensitive areas but we picked a great location for Alwyn's turbine that hides the turbine very well from view but still is able to access the wind and capture its maximum potential,” added Mr Burrell.
After visiting the site of the wind turbine at Rhydycriw farm, Mr Jones said: “Renewable energy is something well worth considering these days and I can only congratulate Alwyn on his success with the wind turbine.”
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