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SUSTAINABLE energy could fulfil at least one Gwynedd community’s heating needs as the world faces up to a carbon-free future.

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, Blaenau Ffestiniog are now being considered ahead of a planned feasibility study next month.

Involving several organisations, the plan is to develop a scheme that could pave the way for similar projects in other quarrying communities  such as Llanberis, Deiniolen, Nantlle and Bethesda and those not currently linked to the gas network.

The vision is for partners to work together to:

  • make the heating 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.

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.

According to Meilyr Tomos of Y Dref Werdd, work on the study will begin in early March 2021.

“It’s been some twelve years since I first came here to work,” he said.

“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.”

As well as Ynni Cymunedol Twrog, Y Dref Werdd and Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog, te partnership also includes Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig, Gwynedd Council as the strategic housing authority, Social Landlords and the Welsh Government Energy Service.

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.”

 Cllr Craig Ab Iago, Gwynedd Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing, added: “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.”

For more information contact YnniTwrog@cwmnibro.cymru

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