The Gower Regeneration site at Killan Farm, Dunvant has played its part in providing energy through the ages to the communities of Gower and beyond. As the site turns to an exciting new phase in supplying surrounding homes and businesses with renewable fuel, it’s inspiring to acknowledge the different energy sources surrounding the site, and the way they’ve been used throughout history.
Water drove one of the most fascinating examples of ancient energy technology, here on Gower: Park Mill, built c. 1170. A huge wheel with blades and buckets around the outer rim would be spun by a current of running water, transmitting power through a central axle or shaft to gears driving machinery. This provided power for many processes, including grinding corn, working textiles and sawing wood. The mill’s fascinating history is on display at the Gower Heritage Centre, where Y Felin Ddŵr charitable trust preserves it to teach future generations about the value of water power.
Coal was mined just opposite the Killan Farm site until the 1920s; Dunvant colliery employed 400 people. There were also mines at Penclawdd and Morlais, working the same seam. Worldwide, coal is still the largest source of electricity-producing energy, responsible for the largest release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by humans. Coal’s polluting effects go further than that – many local families will know first-hand of the health impacts suffered by miners.
Farming is perhaps the oldest and most necessary form of energy production, growing the fuel we all need to power that most impressive and sophisticated of machines: the human body. As people become more aware that we are what we eat and demand local, natural produce, it’s worth remembering that Gower generates a vast variety of food, from Salt Marsh Lamb to seaweed.
Wood has been used as fuel for centuries, and our increasing understanding of the environmental damage caused by fossil fuels like coal has rekindled our interest in it for both domestic and larger-scale energy production. Burning wood releases the same amount of carbon dioxide that the tree absorbs while it is growing. This means that if processing and transportation can be done in ways which minimise CO2 production, wood can be a carbon-neutral fuel. But we prefer sunshine!
The change from fossil fuels to renewables is moving apace, and it can’t happen quickly enough. Saturday 25thMarch 2017 was a landmark day, when more power was fed to the national grid by sunshine than by coal. 2020 was the first year that renewables fed more power to the grid than either gas or coal. We are so proud to be contributing to the shift from old fuels to new.
We invite you to join this energy revolution and help turn the wheel a notch further in the right direction. Sign up for our energy supply and celebrate Swansea’s ongoing role in powering change.