My name is Sioned Haf, from Llangadog, Sir Gâr. I have been involved with community projects, sustainability issues and the community energy sector for the past decade, as a researcher, volunteer, campaigner and coordinator. Through research funding, I have organised a number of events that have raised awareness about community energy and have developed the first ever graphic novel about the sector (along with teaching resources for schools across Wales): https://ticktockcommunityenergy.wordpress.com/. Having had experience of community energy developments in Scotland, Ireland and across Wales, I am now currently working with Ynni Sir Gâr on implementing an innovative Energy Local project in Llandysul and the area. Ynni Sir Gâr is a Community Benefit Society, working with communities to reduce energy costs, tackle fuel poverty, generate clean renewable energy, and keep the profits local. They own a 500kW wind turbine funded by a community share offer and have arranged installation of smaller scale PV schemes in the area. Other initiatives they are involved in include trial Energy Local sites in Carmarthenshire where local residents can buy electricity directly from a community owned renewable energy scheme, and working with Local Authorities and other organisations in the region on the strategic deployment of chargepoints and increasing electric vehicle use.
Why are you drawn to this area of work and/or how have you helped community groups take their first steps to action in the past?
The empowerment of communities across Wales has been the main reason that I am drawn to this area of work, along with a keen desire to be a part of the movement to act on Climate Change issues. I have worked in the past with a number of community energy groups, including Ynni Ogwen, Awel Aman Tawe and SCEES in raising awareness about community ownership of renewable energy projects, and how to go about implementing more such projects. I currently work with Ynni Sir Gâr in achieving such goals in Carmarthenshire. As a part of my research history, I have also visited a number of community energy groups across Wales, Scotland and Ireland to learn more about the ways they have established themselves, the pitfalls and the beneftis of developing such projects. Art is another interest of mine, and the ways that art can communicate sustainability issues – and through research funding and the help of a number of community energy groups across Wales, have developed a teaching resource in the form of a graphic novel, as a means of getting community energy taught in schools.
Through Renew Wales, I hope to help many more people to embrace the possibilities posed by taking responsibility for the future of their communities, particularly by realising the potential that renewable energy and energy efficiency measures can have in combating fuel poverty, creating robust local economies and better places and spaces to live.
What is your vision of your region in 2050? What will have changed and how will we have got there?
I would love to see many more examples of community owned and developed renewable energy projects in my region of south-west Wales, ensuring that local people benefit directly from the dispersed renewable energy sector. Fuel poverty will be a thing of the past. Our rail network would have been electrified and electric cars will be the norm. By 2050, my son will be 33years old – by which time, I hope that our area of rural Wales will be a thriving place for him to live – with all the pillars of sustainability being practiced which would have led to an inclusive, fair local economy, a healthy natural environment, a caring society and where the Welsh language has made a recovery, is respected, and a cultural and economic asset within the area.