Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm
As we kick off UK Wind Week 2020, we’re taking a closer look at Pen y Cymoedd Wind Farm in south Wales.
Vattenfall’s Pen y Cymoedd onshore wind farm in the upper Neath, Rhondda, Cynon and Afan valleys in South Wales is the highest altitude wind farm in the UK. Planning permission was granted in 2012, construction started in 2014 and it started operating in 2017. Each year its 76 turbines can produce enough electricity to power 15% of Welsh homes. In addition to the production of fossil free electricity, there is also a 22MW battery on site.
Beyond the wind farm, more than 100 jobs have been supported by the project’s innovative community benefit scheme, which contributes £1.8 million each year to the local community. More recently, it has launched a Covid emergency fund to help businesses and groups financially – whether for cash flow or to diversify for something Covid-specific. Over £500,000 has been distributed from this fund helping to support 32 businesses and organisation, as well as enabling a further 23 Covid response projects to get off the ground to support those most in need within local communities.
Wind Turbine Technician, Andrew Clardidge has a birds’ eye view of Pen y Cymoedd
The Play Yard in Treorchy is a soft play centre for babies, toddlers and children. It was supported by £350,000 from the Pen y Cymoedd Community Fund when it first started and is now a vital community resource that has created jobs and allowed people to connect and improve their physical and mental health. Unable to open during Lockdown, Manager Nathan Howells and his team have adapted their offer and distribute high-quality food hampers to people on furlough or otherwise affected by the crisis, as well as supplying over 200 school lunches a day to prevent children going hungry.
Making its debut in 2021, Sisters of Send Weekend will be Wales’ first women’s mountain bike festival. This has been supported from Pen y Cymoedd’s Vision Fund with £16,066. The event will feature big brand industry names and feature expert coaching and guiding from prominent professionals. The aim is to promote women’s mountain biking and advocate mountain biking as an accessible, fun and inclusive sport that supports physical and mental wellbeing. The aim is for this to become an annual event. Part of the Sisters of Send event will take place on the 24km long, challenging Blade Mountain Bike Trail, which is located around Pen y Cymoedd wind farm and was opened in 2014.
The Habitat Management Plan is one of Vattenfall’s planning commitments and is designed to restore up to 1500ha of native habitats within the upland plateaus of the wind farm site. The sites are part of Welsh Government’s Woodland Estate which are managed by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on their behalf. NRW is managing the delivery of the HMP with this first site being completed by local contractors from Brecon and Cwmaman.
The works on site were undertaken using a large 13 tonne wide-tracked excavator – wide tracks are required to stop the excavator from sinking into the peat! Work involved blocking drainage channels and flipping the stumps of felled trees over into the remnant peat. The aim was to restore the hydrology of the underlying peat bog to a near natural state, and recreate the conditions needed for peat forming plants to recolonise the site. Peat bogs are important sites for storage of carbon as well as being great habitat for wildlife.
Pen y Cymoedd in numbers
Turbines – 76
Total installed capacity – 228 MW
Generating enough electricity for 188,000 homes each year
Investment during construction – £220 million
Community benefit fund – £1.8 million per year
Locally based jobs – 16
Battery storage on site – 22MW