Forestry and climate change: case studies
Whether you love them or hate them, wind turbines are certainly visible. But if, when you see one you think of the money and jobs being created in the local area, you may realise that turbines bring many benefits that aren’t immediately obvious.
Bro Dyfi Community Renewables (BDCR) was originally set up to meet local needs. Their first major project, in 2001, was to erect a 75-kilowatt wind turbine, owned by members of the surrounding community and selling the energy generated to the nearby Centre for Alternative Technology.
Community members founded the group and raised money for the project by selling shares, which pay an annual dividend. There was a maximum investment of £1,000 to allow everyone who wanted shares to be able to invest. BDCR is an Industrial and Provident Society, which in practical terms means that all members have an equal say, regardless of how many shares they own. Many invested because they felt it was a good thing to do; others worked on the erection of the turbine in exchange for shares.
The project is one of the first of its kind in the UK and the community group faced several challenges during development. The entire project almost ground to a halt when a local landowner changed his mind about having the turbine on his land. Luckily, the Forestry Commission were on hand to save the day by allowing the group to erect the turbine on the edge of FC land.
The project's advantages are social, financial and environmental. As the energy is sold, shareholders receive a dividend on their investment. The electricity generated by the wind turbine is slowing climate change by preventing the release into the atmosphere of 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Some of the project costs were covered by a grant which was used to buy shares, the dividend from which is invested in local energy efficiency projects. This allows local people who didn’t invest to benefit directly from the project.
The success of the original turbine has spurred on the group to raise funds for a second, larger wind turbine: a 500KW Nordtank NTK500/37. This turbine has already arrived on the hillside and is currently undergoing a thorough service, safety check and electrical work, prior to commissioning. Often the most difficult thing about erecting a wind turbine is getting it and the crane needed to erect it, to the site where it is going to be built; you need a very large crane and a lorry big enough to carry some pretty long bits of metal! FC played a critical role in this project by allowing access through their land and allowing us to build an access road through the forest.