Wales’ largest onshore wind farm is officially up and running, with Welsh First Minister Carwyn Jones heralding the technology as a “key part” of Wales’ low-carbon economic future.
Vattenfall, the Swedish developer of the 228MW Pen y Cymoedd wind farm, marked the official launch yesterday with an announcement designed to underscore the economic boost wind offers local economies, confirming 53 per cent of the £400m investment in the site went to Welsh businesses.
The Wales-centric investment strategy delivered 1,000 jobs for workers in the country over the past three years, Vattenfall said, with a total of £220m of investment channelled into the Welsh economy.
“Wind power is a key part of our efforts to build a sustainable low carbon economy for Wales,” First Minister Jones said. “I am pleased we were able to support this project, which has shown how the local community, the Welsh economy and people right across the country can benefit from such a scheme.”
The Pen y Cymoedd project has actually been in operation since Spring 2017, and over the course of an average year will deliver enough power each year for around 188,000 homes, or 15 per cent of Welsh households. It will have paid back its original carbon footprint by 2020 and will continue generating green power until at least 2037, Vattenfall said, saving around 300,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year.
Vattenfall also plans to add energy storage capacity to the site later this year, after signing an agreement with BMW Goup in March to take delivery of up to 1,000 33kWh lithium ion batteries.
The plan is to install the batteries at Pen y Cymoedd in the fourth quarter of this year so they can earn revenue providing frequency response services to the grid.
The official opening of the site came in the same week as the Welsh government announced an ambitious new target to source 70 per cent of the country’s power from renewables by 2030, up from 30 per cent currently.
However, Cabinet Secretary Lesley Griffiths warned the target would only be met if the Westminster government provided a route to market for new renewables projects in the country.
“The rapid changes of UK government policy have decimated large parts of the renewable sector in Wales and developments potentially valuable to Wales have been stopped in their tracks by UK Ministers,” she told the Welsh Assembly earlier this week. “The bulk of UK government renewables investment is now going to offshore wind projects outside Wales. This investment is paid for by Welsh bill payers, amongst others.
“There is a need for the bulk of energy supply to come from the most affordable technologies, if the costs are to be found from energy bills. These technologies therefore need a route to market if we are to meet our ambitious targets and deliver the most benefit to Welsh bill payers. That is why I have called repeatedly on UK government to stop the ideological exclusion of onshore wind and solar from the Contracts for Difference process.”