Low Carbon Energy Generation – Supporting Powys to do its bit.
The Welsh Government has just released an updated study on the installed capacity of Low Carbon Energy Generation in Wales. The report shows that the amount of renewable energy being generated in Wales is rising rapidly, a trend that Carl Sargeant, Minister for Natural Resources, wishes to see continue in order to fulfil his vision of ‘all communities and businesses generating both electricity and heat locally from a range of renewable installations, to supply local demand and to minimise our dependence on central generation.’
In analysing the report, it is interesting to see the role that Powys is playing in delivering this vision of a local energy, low carbon future for Wales.
Powys has nearly 5,000 renewable energy installations (nearly a fifth of the whole) and contributes carbon savings of around 216,000 tons of CO2 per year. This is not all from onshore wind. Powys has:
- the highest number of biomass boiler installations in Wales (608), well over a quarter of the total;
- the highest number of air and ground source heat pumps (430);
- the highest number of solar thermal (615); and,
- is near the top of the league table in terms of solar pv installations (3,068).
The majority of these installations are domestic in scale – which is where Robert Owen Community Banking comes into the picture.
Over the last five years we have worked in partnership with the Private Sector Housing Team at Powys County Council to deliver an innovative loan finance product that has contributed to the growth of domestic renewable energy installations in the county. How this works is quite simple.
The local authority has a number of targets around carbon saving that are supported by internal and external funding resources. Robert Owen puts this funding out in the form of zero interest loans to householders in the county, in order to support both renewable energy installations and attendant energy efficiency measures. The loan amount available varies in relation to the amount of finance in the pot each year, but is generally in the region of £5,000 per installation, repayable over a loan term of up to 5 years. With renewables able to repay for themselves over the longer term through fuel cost savings and subsidy payments on the heat or electricity generated, the availability of low or no cost finance clearly makes investing in low carbon technologies the proverbial ‘no brainer’ in Powys.
And so it has proved. Over the last five years Robert Owen has made £2.6m worth of loans to households in Powys, helping to install 283 solar pv arrays and 65 biomass boiler systems, not to mention additional loans for heat pumps, solar thermal and other carbon saving measures. We calculate that this has resulted in estimated carbon savings from the programme of 14,000 tonnes of CO2 to date.
And that is not the end of the benefits. All the installations we support are undertaken by suppliers based in Powys. In addition to our £2.6m of loan finance, clients have invested a further £1.4m of their own money, that’s £4m of turnover spent directly with local companies. Through our joint initiative, Robert Owen and the team at Powys are thus supporting the development of local ‘green growth’ and helping to sustain a significant number of jobs within the rural economy of mid Wales.
Robert Owen Community Banking is proud to be doing our bit to develop the low carbon economy in Wales, whether through householder loans in Powys or by supporting the development of community energy projects across Wales.
For more information on Zero Interest Loans within Powys, see our main website here.