Three schools, a care home and a crematorium in Newport will be among the first buildings to have solar rooftop panels installed as part of a Welsh government scheme to expand community-owned renewable energy in Wales.
The panels, which will produce two megawatts of electricity, will be installed by solar co-op Egni, after being awarded nearly £2.35m in funding.
The Welsh government says it is making a drive towards local ownership of renewable energy, in response to the climate emergency. The move also comes amid concerns over escalating living costs and global energy security.
The overall government project is projected to save 3,700 tonnes of carbon and realise significant savings on electricity bills.
Teaching of the climate emergency is mandatory in Wales’s new school curriculum – and Egni has pledged to reinvest surplus money from energy sold back to the grid into further climate change education.
Caerleon Comprehensive School is already benefiting from an Egni installation. Speaking on a visit there, deputy climate change minister Lee Waters MS said: “Our vision is clear, we want Wales to generate renewable energy to at least fully meet our energy needs and use surplus generation to tackle the nature and climate emergencies.
“Projects like this show that ambition can become a reality. With each IPCC report, the reality of the climate emergency hits home and we want Wales to play its part in the global response by hitting Net Zero by 2050.
“To meet that target, we’ve got to increase the amount of green energy we generate five-fold in the next 30 years. Net Zero Wales reaffirmed our commitment for a significant transformation of energy generation moving away from fossil fuels to sustainable renewable generation.”
He added: “Community-owned energy builds local energy resilience through cleaner, greener means – vital in our efforts to reach a Net Zero Wales by 2050, and help schools, hospitals and communities protect themselves against rising living costs.”
Egni, which will own and manage the panels, has already connected solar panels producing 4.3MW of energy to almost 90 buildings in Wales, and last year became the biggest rooftop solar co-op in the UK.
The Welsh government is committed to expanding renewable energy generation by public bodies and community groups in Wales by over 100 megawatts by 2026.
Dan McCallum from Egni Co-op said: “We are delighted with this Welsh government support.
“Egni is already the largest rooftop solar co-op in the UK which shows how a co-operative approach can enable Wales to achieve great things. It’s vital that co-op based renewable energy scales up rapidly. Renewables are our energy of freedom and Welsh people deserve a future free from fossil fuels.”