As Swansea’s environmental sustainability sector promotes Big Green Week with numerous events, we are very proud to mark 10 years of achievements as Swansea’s pioneering sustainable development co-operative. Let’s recap on some highlights of the last decade:
Gower Power helped create Wales’s first community-owned solar farm in 2017, using a loan from the Development Bank of Wales to build the 1MW solar array in Dunvant. We then launched a community share offer to raise the funds necessary to repay the loan, moving the farm into the ownership of Gower Regeneration Ltd, a Community Benefit Society. After covering running costs, including repaying investors with generous interest (4-5% per annum), remaining funds are spent on projects that help the local community.
Further community benefit funds, arising from a 5mw solar farm in Brynwhilach, Morriston are also distributed by Gower Power, and, further afield, we are contracted to similarly distribute funds arising from other solar farms within nearby communities. We intend to move the Brynwhilach farm into community ownership with a share offer later this summer, so do watch out for that … and see how you could help us raise over £2m over the next 18 years to support great projects around Swansea.
Following our research showing that people in the area desperately wanted healthy, local veg grown in harmony with nature, we worked to help develop Swansea’s first Community Supported Agriculture scheme. Cae Tan quickly expanded, now providing 130 weekly veg boxes, in return for a contribution paid monthly or annually. Providing apprenticeships and mentoring, Cae Tan has trained other growers and enabled several more Swansea CSAs to be established, producing nutrient-rich, fresh food, using nature-friendly methods. Thanks to Gower Power’s pioneering efforts, Swansea now has one of the highest concentrations of CSAs in the UK.
Summit Good, adjacent to the Dunvant solar farm site, has received support from Gower Power over the years, as have numerous projects based in the converted shipping containers and on the land there. All are focused on a healthier, more resilient and biodiverse future, and are helping transform a barren field into a thriving network of small businesses and productive farmland.
We have participated actively in Swansea Environmental Forum, the Rural Development Partnership and, more recently Bwyd Abertawe – Swansea’s food-focused network aiming to develop Swansea as a Sustainable Food Place. Through these partnerships we contribute our skills, expertise and suggestions to emerging projects, consultations and policy developments. We also really enjoy being members of 4theRegion, supporting discussions about how organisations, individuals and businesses can team up to steer South-West Wales towards an economy that puts well-being ahead of corporate profits.
Ant Flanagan, our founder and director, says: “It is so great to be celebrating Gower Power’s 10th birthday during 2023’s Big Green Week. The things that have been achieved over the last decade are really amazing and we are looking forward to the next stage. It will be great to see our membership expand through our next share offer, and give more local people a say in how the wealth generated from green energy sales gets shared out.”