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Dulas Valley Community Wind Partnership, Wales

Wales’ first community- owned wind turbine

In 2003, Machynlleth, a small town in central Wales with 2,200 inhabitants and a small tourism industry, erected Wales’ first community-owned wind turbine. The path there was stony and only crowned by success thanks to the commitment of long-term volunteers.

Affected population 2,200
By Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung Brussels Office


A small group of dedicated people led by a woman with prior experience in the English wind energy cooperative Baywind and her three male companions – members, respectively, of the pro-tourism foundation Ecodyfi, the Mid Wales Energy Agency and the local Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) – started the initiative at the end of the 1990s. At first they invited residents to a series of lectures in the parish house. Soon after, they founded an unincorporated association, the Dulas Valley Community Wind Partnership. This group organised further regular meetings, where the community, volunteers, landowners and the local administration discussed how a wind turbine could be financed – ideally 100% by the community – and erected with the goodwill of everybody.

They chose a relatively small, second-hand 75kW wind turbine, which they bought in Denmark. At 80,000 pounds it was not expensive and the organisation quickly gathered the required funds. In the end, more people actually wanted shares than were offered. In relatively poor Wales, this was more than could be expected.

At first, there were no state regulations such as feed-in tariffs, so the generated electricity was initially supplied directly to the associated CAT. Only after the government passed feed-in legislation could electricity be sold directly over the grid, making everything much easier. Nonetheless, as Andy Rowland—one of the organisers—comments, the path from the first planning stages up to the erection of the wind turbine resembled an “epic battle”. [1] Ever new administrative legal hurdles needed to be fulfilled and paid for. The whole project nearly failed when without any explanation a large estate owner revoked his permission for a power line to be built over his land. Luckily a forest owner stepped in and made an alternative line possible.

Reinvesting into the community

One third of the profits from the sale of electricity produced by this first wind turbine now go into a community energy fund. This fund pays for consulting services to the residents on energy efficiency and insulation of family homes. Occasionally, too, hundreds of energy saving light bulbs are given out to the community for free, Rowland explains. In 2010, a second and far stronger 500 kW wind turbine was built to support the public Ecodyfi programme, which promotes low-impact tourism and pioneering ecological projects.

Although the organisers are proud to have built Wales’ first community-owned wind turbine, they do not recommend anyone to try to do the same. They report technical problems with the second-hand wind turbines, and the time and effort needed for the approval process “brought all of [them] to [their] limits”. They therefore recommend that other communities buy new technology, limit themselves to financing such projects and leave the planning and the question of permits to specialists.

[1] Interview with Andy Rowland.

This article is presented in the Energy democracy in Europe, A survey and outlook by Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung in 2014.

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