Wales’ biggest onshore wind farm has officially opened in south Wales, after three years in the making.
The Pen-y-Cymoedd wind farm cost £365 million to build and has 76 turbines, which means it can generate enough electricity to power one in six Welsh homes.
First Minister Carwyn Jones officially opened the wind farm, built between Neath and Aberdare, on Thursday.
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“Wind power is a key part of our efforts to build a sustainable low carbon economy for Wales. I am pleased we were able to support this project, which has shown how the local community, the Welsh economy, and people right across the country can benefit from such a scheme,” she said.
Turbine Technician Andrew Claridge at the top of one of the turbines he works on. Credit: @sportingwales taken with a 360° cam. #onshorewindpic.twitter.com/boo3gWAQnA— Pen y Cymoedd (@PenyCymoedd) August 9, 2017
The opening came just two days after Environment Secretary Lesley Griffiths said she wants Wales to generate 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
The rate is currently at 32%, but Griffiths said it’s important for Wales to continue investing in renewable energy.
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“We know that this is the sort of energy we need to see going forward,” said Griffiths, on the "Good Morning Wales" programme on BBC Radio Wales.
“People know that we need to move away from fossil fuel,” she added. “We need to look at all the technologies coming forward to make sure that’s part of our decarbonisation pathway. We need to make sure our infrastructure is correct.”
But, she added, Wales can’t do it on its own.
“We need to be working with the UK government, the energy regulator, Ofgem, network owners and operators.”
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The Pen-y-Cymoedd wind farm — which is run by 23 technicians and support staff — began generating electricity for the first time last autumn and, in an average year, will be able to power around 15% of homes in Wales.
Over £220 million in investment has been spent in Wales in 2014 by Swedish energy group Vattenfall, which built the wind farm, and its contractors — securing work for more than 1,000 people since construction began in 2014.
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“Pen-y-Cymoedd boosts Wales’ drive to carbon reduction, it accelerates Vattenfall’s shift to be fossil free in a generation and it helps the Welsh economy to grow,” said Vattenfall president and CEO Magnus Hall, who added that he hopes for the chance to build more wind farms like Pen-y-Cymoedd.
“That is quite an achievement and one we will want to repeat if we get the chance to build other wind farms in Wales. We are in Wales to grow.”
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