A tiny community in Snowdonia is raising funds for the biggest community-owned hydro in the UK outside Scotland. The residents of Abergwyngregyn have formed an Industrial Provident Society, Ynni Anafon Energy, to build and manage a 270kw hydroelectric plant on the river Anafon.
It launched its share scheme on 13 September, to coincide with the start of Community Energy Fortnight, and raised more than £100,000 in 10 days.
The village, in the foothills of the Carneddau mountains, has just 100 homes and around 230 people. Ynni Anafon Energy is raising £1.25m for the project, through the share scheme and a bank loan, which it will repay over 15 years.
Shares are now available to investors aged 16 and over. The minimum investment is £250 and the maximum is £50,000.
A small weir, approximately a metre high, will be built across the Anafon River, then underground pipes will take water down the hill, until it reaches a turbine. The electricity created will transfer via cables to the National Grid and the water will be returned to the river.
During the 15-year loan repayment period, the community is expected to net £30,000 per year from the hydro. For years 16-20, while the feed-in tariff is still available, income will rise to approximately £80,000 per year.
Thereafter, it is expected to stabilise at between £20,000 and £40,000 per year. After the shareholders have received interest, surplus profits will be donated to village charities.
Gavin Gatehouse, one of three founder-directors of Ynni Anafon Energy, said: “The Anafon Hydro is an excellent opportunity to invest in a profitable business and support Abergwyngregyn. The structure of the IPS keeps control of the organisation out of the hands of large organisations and, instead, channels funds into village causes and the wider community.”
Planning and other consents have been granted and construction is due to start early in 2015.