Despite the pandemic the project team have been working hard and have secured grants offers of £7500 from the Welsh Government Energy Service. The grants have been offered to two community groups: EcoDewi of St Davids and Donkeyhill Transition of Llanteg.
Both awards are to support the community groups with an initial ecology survey and pre-planning applications for sites they have identified for solar arrays. EcoDewi are working on a 800kW solar development site with grid connection, enabling the sale of energy to the grid and supporting its de-carbonisation. Donkeyhill Transition meanwhile are investigating an initial 29kW solar array to provide alleviate the financial and carbon cost of their private sewage system. This could be followed by a second phase consisting of a 1MW community owned solar park feeding the grid similar to EcoDewi.
Both sites were initially identified by the respective community groups and submitted to the Welsh Government Energy Service who supported the project by conducting initial feasibility reports. As a result, both were deemed suitable to take forward and to apply for this funding.
The ecology survey at Llanteg is underway with the St Davids one to follow over the summer months. The pre-planning applications will also be submitted to Pembrokeshire County Council over the summer.
The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the project teams planned schedule of events and community support. We are working hard to adapt our work to enable the project to continue its support of communities here in Pembrokeshire.
We have moved our community meetings online and are developing a series of workshops, talks and podcasts on a range of energy and sustainability topics. News of these will appear on the website and social media when they are ready to launch.
LEAF Project Officer Jude Dunn attended the All Energy Decarbonise conference in Glasgow
Here are some of Jude's highlights from the conference:
• Spent most of the day at the Community Energy Seminar, with speakers speaking about community renewable energy.
• In the last hour I went to the Dcarbonise conference lecture theatre to hear 5 speakers on : The Environmental Challenge for Port Cities
2 events to hear speakers on :
• Low Carbon Heat Policy
• Low Carbon Future
• Talked to stall holders in the last hour: an AD company and Calor Gas about biogas for caravan parks.
2 companies that impressed Jude the most:
• Swanbarton Ltd
This small company from Malmsbury works with flow batteries and has established a way of doing peer to peer in real time trading, e.g. as part of a community renewable energy project on Iona with 75 households and a micro grid of solar panels on their rooves and a wind turbine and a battery sited in the local pub. They also cannot feed back into the grid. And through this system the battery – a100Kw - 250Kw 48 volt Lithium one, is balancing the system; when energy is plentiful the price falls and when energy is scarce the price rises. This is managed on a minute to minute basis where the generators can sell to the users without the use of Blockchain.
Building on what they’ve done on Iona, Swanbarton are currently working with a community project in Devon and Exeter to develop a market.
The MD, Anthony Price, is pioneering and inspirational working to tackle regulation to help small players in a market of large players.
• Nova, Energy Storage
A small company in Edinburgh has worked with Tesla to find a way to store tidal energy in Shetland to provide a baseload storage systmem which makes the system viable and robust for users.
To find out more click here
Key Learning from the Conference
• Get the local authority on board. Political will is key
• When the project is rolled out, a dedicated PM is key
• We need to change regulation so that community energy is enabled and peer to peer trading becomes a reality (See notes on Swanbarton above)
• Small innovative companies are making big changes with storage ; don’t wait for the big tech industries to find solutions! There are many small companies working on the solutions out there.
• Everyone can be included, even those without means, to be empowered in the places where they live if we make it happen.
• cross partnership working is needed to create project infrastructure as well as the need for business models for delivery within markets.
• Renewable energy can conincide not only with people and place, but with waste and the circular economy, and ultimately in the health agenda. e.g. waste products/ heat from local businesses which has previously been left untapped. e.g. whisky business used for community renewable energy on Isle of Islay.
• Many community energy projects want to communicate what they have done and help other community energy projects to set up and succeed. (e.g. Thrive Renewables (Mean Moore in Cumbria), Fintry Development Trust etc)
Jude's top take-aways from the conference:
• When communities make their first step and create a stake in their locality, other things follow that could not have been foreseen or planned for e.g. additional benefits such as community cohesion.
• Innovation exists outside waiting for the large players to provide the solutions, and changes in regulation can help community energy take a foothold.
The Project Officers had a busy April preparing for the capacity day and starting to form the Local Energy Action Groups (LEAG) in their communities.
They had great feedback from the capacity day and all agreed that the LEAG members were inspired by the event and enthusiastic to get going!
As part of the learning from the project, an independent evaluator will be charting the progress of the project and developing a Theory of Change with each of the Project Officers.
A Theory of Change is a diagram that explains how a project has an impact on its beneficiaries. It outlines all the things that a project does for of its beneficiaries, the ultimate impact that it aims to have on them, and all the separate outcomes that lead or contribute to that impact.
Following a tendering process, Dilys Burrell has been selected to undertake this work and we are really looking forward to working with Dilys to realise the potential of the LEAF project and team.
On 29thApril 2019 the inaugural Capacity Building Day of Community Energy Pembrokeshire’s (CEP) Local Energy Action Force (LEAF) project brought together people from 5 communities across Pembrokeshire to learn, share ideas and inspiration. They met at Pembrokeshire College’s MITEC campus in Milford Haven for a day related to sustainability and capacity building within their communities. The Capacity Building Day was led by LEAF project partners from Pembrokeshire College, Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum (PCF) and Pembrokeshire Association of Voluntary Services (PAVS).
Participants came from the five LEAF project areas of; Llanteg Park; Tavernspite; St David’s; Tiers Cross and; Milford Haven, Hakin and Hubberston. The volunteers are part of groups called Champions’ LEAGs (Local Energy Action Groups). Collectively there was a real mix of experience and knowledge within the Champions’ LEAG members, and enthusiasm at the start of this 18-month project.
Project Officer, Corinne Castle, said,
“It is warming to meet so many passionate people who want to support their communities to develop their own power generation, storage and energy distribution. With the LEAF project we are able to support them to realise their ambitions in communities across Pembrokeshire.”
Milford volunteer, Duncan Edwards, said,
“I look forward to helping develop ideas of how energy can be generated, stored and distributed locally for the benefit of the community of Milford Haven.”
The first week of March has been busy!
On March 4th, the LEAF Project Officers convened for the first time. A morning of introductions unpacked a team with incredibly diverse skills and experience, as well as plenty in common - not least a passion for improving our communities and a deep current of excitement about being involved in the project.
The team trained in delivering an evolving version of the Renew Wales Climate Conversation Tool, which will be one of a number of peer to peer tools to share with our five budding communities!
We wish a warm welcome to Brenda, Corinne, Geraint and Jude, and look forward to them engaging with our five communities in the coming weeks
The LEAF project has begun engaging with delivery partners in the project, and with the members of our five communities. Recruitment will soon take place for the Project Officers who will be supporting those communities, sharing knowledge and skills.
LEAF aims to enable local people to look within their communities to identify barriers and resources, and to look beyond their communities for solutions, support, and partnerships to meet the challenge of climate breakdown. We can and must have future communities with abundant, cheap, sustainable energy, where we eradicate fuel poverty and head off the greenhouse gas emissions that will trigger even worse climate change impacts than the ones we are already adapting to.
LEAF communities through Arwain Sir Benfro, our generous match funders, volunteers and delivery partners, will soon be able to deliver local sustainable energy solutions.