Green Valleys CIC is looking for new sites to replicate the community-owned hydro model
Green Valleys Community Interest Company supports the growth of renewable energy generation in the Brecon Beacons. Chris Blake, volunteer chairman of the company tells us more.
Born from a discussion between two friends in Brecon, The Green Valleys organisation was Wales' only finalist into NESTA's Big Green Challenge, a UK-wide competition looking for innovative solutions to climate change, which offered a chance to win a share of £1 million.
Our idea was relatively simple, to form a not-for-profit company in order to raise funds to enable community groups to buy and install small scale hydro-electric generators.
The green electricity generated would then be sold to the National Grid and the revenue shared.
The lion's share of the revenue would be used by the community to initiate locally specific environmental and social initiatives that between the community wishes to see in their area.
A small proportion of the revenue would be recycled into the capital investment fund of the Green Valleys organisation eventually allowing them to fund and install other micro-generation projects in the area.
This would enable other community groups to take positive action against climate change in their local environment.
The whole project should then grow and spread at an exponential rate.
The project made it through to NESTA's final 10, out of hundreds of entries, and the end of the Big Green Challenge year in October 2009 saw The Green Valleys about to assist the installation of a community hydro scheme in the Dyffryn Crawnon near Llangynidr in Powys.
From the initial seed sown, The Green Valleys organisation has grown into a fully-fledged company (CIC) that supports the growth of renewable energy generation in the Brecon Beacons.
It hopes that other communities across the country and across the British Isles will copy the model, using whatever natural resources are available to them.
The company is about enabling communities to make sustainable changes, specific to their locality, without having to wait for central government action.
It has really inspired local communities to take positive and tangible action to combat climate change.
One Green Valleys group, in Llangattock, has just won British Gas' Green Streets competition securing professional advice and support worth £140,000.
Alongside the hydro-electric schemes, the Green Valleys have also been engaging the local communities around the park in a year-long carbon audit of more than 100 volunteering homes in the region, something they hope to continue.
This audit has enabled The Green Valleys to promote energy efficiency in the home and small businesses through the distribution of energy-saving information and energy efficiency products.
The Green Valleys and the Dyffryn Crawnon hydro project were recently featured in a short film to be shown at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stand during the Copenhagen Climate Change conference.
As well as concentrating on the installation of community hydro generators, the Green Valleys CIC is also looking for potentially promising new sites in the region to replicate the community-owned hydro model.
It also seeks to provide advice, project management and financial support packages for community and private schemes looking to progress on their own.