Wales’ community groups taking lead on tackling climate change

Egni Coop is celebrating the installation of two new solar sites – a 4 kW system on Crynant Community Centre in Neath Port Talbot and 10 kW on Llanbradach Community Centre in Caerphilly. Both are vital community hubs in their respective areas offering a range of facilities and opportunities to local people.

Egni Coop Director, Rosie Gillam said “We are delighted with these projects. They are both such brilliant organisations and right from the start, wanted to help tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions from their buildings. Even when they’re not using the solar electricity on their site at quiet times or when they’re closed, it’ll be exported into the grid and help to ‘green up’ our energy supply. By working with Egni to get solar on their roofs, it’s also reducing their electricity costs and provides more stability for them in the future as electricity prices from their main suppliers are bound to rise. We also want to develop our education programme in the future and it’s vital that we’ve got local hubs like this so our schools can learn about renewables and climate change from venues which are important to them. The panels at Crynant are online already here so schools and local people can see how much they’re generating, and we’ll be getting the Llanbradach ones online in the next few days.”

Panels on Llanbradach Community Centre

Dan McCallum, another Director, added, “It’s vital that in the week that the world’s leaders are in Madrid at the climate change conference, and the UN is warning we’re not acting quickly enough, that the voluntary sector in Wales is taking tangible action at a community level. These are not massive sites and they’re not going to solve climate change on their own, but collectively, these sites add up and we have to start somewhere. We are inspired by the example of Greta Thunberg who has shown, with what started as a small action by a schoolgirl outside the Swedish parliament, how to have a global impact. We now longer have to explain why climate change is important – Greta Thunberg has done it more effectively than anyone else on the planet.

We also want to acknowledge the role that Neath Port Talbot Council and Caerphilly Council played in making these projects happen. They own the respective buildings and lease them to the community groups. So, our legal agreement has to be with the councils and the groups. Both sets of Council officers were absolutely excellent to deal with and fully committed to the project as soon as they heard about it. We know that all Council officers are really busy after all the cuts that have been made, but we were so pleased by the way they pushed this through. It gives us hope when we see the voluntary sector and public sector working together so effectively in Wales. It caps a good couple of weeks for us – last week, Egni was recognised as the Outstanding Renewable Energy Project in an award sponsored by Welsh Government, at the Sustainable Academy Awards.

Ilona Shadrach and Rosie Gillam from Egni Coop with Vicky Davies, Welsh Govt.

Rosie added “The installs were undertaken by Welsh installers Styles Electrical on Crynant and by Ice Power at Llanbradach who both did an excellent job.”

None of this would have happened without feasibility funding. We especially want to thank Rural Development Programme / Welsh Government funds in Neath Port Talbot for funding the feasibility on Crynant and the Welsh Government Energy Service and Sustainable Communities Wales for funding the feasibility on Llanbradach. This de-risked the projects and enabled us to fund the solar installation costs from our Share Offer which has now raised £1.3m. People can join our coop and invest from £50 – please visit for more info and we hope you join us to help tackle climate change.”

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