Page last updated at 14:16 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009
Community fights climate change

Turbine House and spillway
The electricity produced by the turbine saves around 100 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year

Peter Williams of Talybont Energy, a community company that invests its income in energy saving and sustainable living projects in the Talybont-on-Usk area, tells us more about the project.

Talybont Energy is a community company formed in 2001 with the initial mission of reinstating the turbine at Talybont-on-Usk reservoir.

The reservoir was built in 1939 to provide water for Newport, and the engineers installed a small hydro-electric turbine below the dam to power the waterworks.

When the National Grid reached Talybont this turbine was decommissioned - at the time, it was widely believed that electricity, like water, would eventually be too cheap to meter.

We'll be looking into low carbon car transport, and have ideas for future investments to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel for heating
Peter Williams

Fast forward to the 21st century and it is water that is metered while the government pays us to put electricity back onto the National Grid, even more if we can do it without burning fossil fuel.

After five years hard work, the turbine became fully operational in 2006 when opened by Rhodri Morgan, First Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government.

Welsh Water maintains a regular flow from the reservoir into the River Caerfanell, and putting this compensation flow through the turbine generates up to 19kW in the summer and 36kW in the winter months.

The annual output of the turbine is about 250mWh, which is enough electricity for nearly 60 average homes.

We sell our electricity to Good Energy, a supplier that buys all its electricity from renewable sources, and we invest the income in energy saving and sustainable living projects in our community.

Turbine and generator
Talybont Energy wants to develop ideas to reduce fossil fuel dependency

On top of the money it generates, the electricity produced by our turbine replaces what would otherwise have to come from fossil-fuelled power stations and this saves around 100 tonnes of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere in the course of a year.

We have used the income from the turbine to promote energy saving within our community, conducting carbon audits and commissioning professional advice about ways residents can reduce their consumption, saving money and carbon emissions.

Electric bikes

We have distributed energy-saving light bulbs and electricity monitors and we carry out school visits to the turbine.

Paid for partly by the income from the turbine, our village hall will soon be producing electricity from an array of photovoltaic panels, and this year we ran a six-month trial of electric bikes.

A total of 75 residents from Talybont and other Brecon Beacons communities tried using the bikes for a day as an alternative to using their car.

Next year, we'll be looking into low carbon car transport, and have ideas for future investments to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel for heating.

The Talybont turbine is thus at the centre of a "virtuous circle" where the income from generation, which itself reduces carbon emissions, is invested in schemes which deliver further reduction.

This, we hope, can be a model for similar community-based initiatives.




SEE ALSO
Community in carbon neutral bid
08 Jan 08 |  Mid Wales
Villages to merge into 'eco-town'
03 Oct 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife
Village water power scheme launch
12 Apr 06 |  Mid Wales

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