Leanne Visits - CARE

Read about Leanne's visit to one of our members, CARE.

Published: 13.09.2023 ( 10 months ago )

There isn’t much more heartwarming than breaking bread with like-minded people you haven’t met before.

And that’s exactly what the Ynni Cymunedol Cymru team did on our visit to CARE - Cwm Arian Renewable Energy, who have their base in Tegryn, Pembrokeshire.

People instantly connect over shared food. The hwb in Tegryn, a small village in the north of Pembrokeshire, a place that would in all likelihood be left without any community facilities if it wasn’t for the community energy sector and volunteers, is a hive of activity. Every month the staff and any visitors to CARE gather there and they all bring a plate of food to share.

Daniel, one of the founders of CARE brought a home baked loaf with flour from the mill in nearby Llandudoch. It was outstanding. As was the whole experience.

We were given an overview of the project by Holly and Daniel who have both been involved in CARE since its start around ten years ago.

There isn’t much more heartwarming than breaking bread with like-minded people you haven’t met before.

After slowly plugging away trying to get a wind turbine installed, they finally got everything agreed and operational in 2019. Their projects can now look forward to a steady income and some financial security which they have been able to use as leverage to create all kinds of community benefits. CARE, employ twelve members of staff, who share an EV mini-bus (lent to them by commuity transport association Dolen Teifi), have developed a sustainable arts hub - Y Stiwdio - and run all kinds of environmental-improving activities like tree and hedge planting, and local food schemes. Community Energy Wales & our partner organisation TrydanNi also have plans for CARE to be a pilot for our new EV car-clubs scheme.

The five members of our team plus Holly and Daniel travelled the short journey from Tegryn to Hermon in the electric mini-bus where we were met by Emma, the artist-in-residence and Coordinator of the amazing community art space, Y Stiwdio.

Emma explained to us how the building had been a derelict garage, but had been purchased and rebuilt using hemp-crete - a sustainable building material made from hemp fibre and lime, that does the job of concrete. Local volunteers learned new skills by applying the hemp-crete and lime render to the walls themselves.

The pole-timber frame of the building look like beautiful exposed tree branches are holding up the roof. They are made of larch, by Tŷ Pren, another local business.

The hemp-crete provides very high levels of insulation. This coupled with heating supplied by heat pump, supplemented by the rooftop pv system and battery storage, means the building is extremely energy efficient and the carbon footprint is very low compared to buildings made of more conventional materials.

Emma is keen to bring in artists and creators who through artistic projects and events, can help people reduce their footprint even further.

All of this activity has been made possible by this small group of determined people and their tenacity in getting that wind turbine. They have ambitions to develop more renewable energy and more projects that enable people to live greener.

As is often the case, Cwm Arian Renewable Energy had to compromise on their plans in order to obtain planning permission. Their wind turbine is not the optimum, most efficient for their site. It’s shorter than planned in order to reduce visual impact.

The team at CARE have ambitions to develop the site further. They already have planning permission for a 522kW solar array, but installation costs are high because of supply demand tension in the market. They would love to be able to supply the electricity they generate to the local community and businesses too. None of this is made easy by the system we have, but CARE’s plans are laying out a vision for a resilient future through community ownership and energy self-sufficiency - possibly the best insurance policy a community can have for the future.

Pagination

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