Innovative partnership and scheme to heat Tanygrisiau?
“Heating our houses at a cost relative to our income is absolutely fundamental. The hole in the bucket needs to be repaired before looking for more water.”
Sustainable energy has been part of Bro Ffestiniog's story from the very beginning. As we face the challenge of climate change, there are big changes ahead, and now we have the opportunity to be innovative, and make sure the local community benefits.
With the area suffering some of the highest levels of fuel poverty in Europe, several options for tackling the challenge and decarbonising heating in Tanygrisiau have been considered over the years. Exciting plans are now being considered to tackle the problem with a feasibility study planned for next month.
A partnership involving Ynni Cymunedol Twrog, Y Dref Werdd, Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog, Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig, Gwynedd Council as the strategic housing authority, Social Landlords and the Welsh Government Energy Service have all come together to tackle the problem once and for all. The plan is to develop a scheme that could pave the way for similar schemes in the quarrying communities of north Wales such as Llanberis, Deiniolen, Nantlle and Bethesda and communities that are not on the gas network throughout Wales.
Councillor Craig Ab Iago, Gwynedd Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “There are many different types of poverty - economic, fuel, health, education, housing, social and more. Most of these affect us here in Gwynedd, and because of the complexity of poverty it can seem too big a problem to solve.
"But we as a Council are determined to tackle all forms of poverty, and there is certainly no poverty when it comes to ambition. This project is an example of that, and shows what is possible when we pool our talents and work together.”
There are only a few examples of heating networks in Wales, but a number of factors in the Tanygrisiau area mean that retrofitting a district or a locally owned district heating network could be a viable option.
Y Dref Werdd, Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog and Ynni Cymunedol Twrog have led by establishing a steering group to organise an initial feasibility study to compare this option with other potential solutions for eradicating fuel poverty and decarbonising heating in Tanygrisiau. Work on the study will begin in early March 2021.
Meilyr Tomos of Y Dref Werdd said: “It's been some twelve years since I first came here to work. The first group of Y Dref Werdd pioneers had been tirelessly pushing for a scheme like this long before I arrived here. Back then, the hope was for a gas supply.
“Now, with the daily news about climate change, we know that it would have been a short-term if not harmful solution.”
The aim is that the study will identify opportunities to work with local energy providers such as Greaves Welsh Slate, Dŵr Cymru, Engie (First Hydro) and Scottish Power, in delivering sustainable solutions that address the affordable energy needs of local residents in an efficient and reliable manner.
Dafydd Watts from Ynni Cymunedol Twrog said:
“It's really good to see this partnership of organisations from the public and community sectors coming together like this to find ways for the area's communities to be able to use and get more benefit from all of the opportunities there are to generate renewable energy locally.
“There needs to be more clean energy projects owned by the local communities, and it needs to be easier to use more of the energy that we generate in the area to meet local needs rather than just exporting it through the grid.”
The vision is for partners to work together to:
- make the heat supply at Tanygrisiau zero carbon;
- that switching to zero carbon heating is easy for Tanygrisiau residents;
- maximize local benefit through local ownership of the heating infrastructure.
The aim is that this will be the start of the journey of collaboration and there are other exciting plans to develop other projects in housing, language and work whilst maximizing the benefits to our communities.
For more information contact YnniTwrog@cwmnibro.cymru