Abergwyngregyn Regeneration Company (ARC) have a very successful record of running innovative projects to promote sustainable community development in the historic village of Abergwyngregyn, famous for the towering waterfall at the end of the valley. The companyʼs achievements include a £470k project to renovate an old mill in the centre of the village for use as a community space and cafe.
Working in partnership with the National Trust, ARC identiﬁed potential for a hydroelectric scheme on the Afon Anafon. They have been laying the foundation for community ownership of this project since 2011. The plan is to install a turbine with a peak operating capacity of 270kW, giving the scheme a gross projected income of over £250,000 per year through the Governmentʼs Feed In Tariff scheme.
Winners of the 2012 Cooperative Community Energy Challenge, it is widely agreed that Abergwyngregyn is one of North West Walesʼ community energy pioneers, paving the way for other groups through a maze of technical, ﬁnancial, legal and ecological learning, including:
• Project design - to ﬁt engineering and ecological constraints.
• Funding - which does not stop the scheme receiving Feed In Tariffs.
• Lease agreements - where the river ﬂows through land belonging to different owners.
• Grid connection - where it has been necessary to pay Scottish Power Energy Networks upfront to ensure the electricity generated can feed in to the national grid.
• Planning permission and Abstraction and Impoundment Licenses - where the scheme is in a Site of Special Scientiﬁc Interest.
This is a highly proﬁtable scheme but will cost over £1.3m to get off the ground. ARC were offered a bank loan for the majority of the capital but have decided to raise as much as possible through local shareholders to retain the proﬁts of the scheme within the local economy. ARC have launched a new Industrial and Provident Society called Ynni Anafon Energy Cyf which will run the hydro project and enable them to issue shares.
The scheme was granted planning permission in Winter 2013 and ARC are hoping to commence installation in Winter of 2014 to begin generating in 2015/16. This has been a lengthy process requiring signiﬁcant voluntary committment, but there is a very bright light at the end of the tunnel for Abergwyngregyn.
ARC are receiving support from the National Trust, Gwynedd Werdd, the Co-operative Group, Centre for Sustainable Energy, Mutual Solutions Limited and Sharenergy.