Environment

Swansea farm harvesting solar power for new electric car charging point

A 1MW solar farm at Killan Fach farm in Dunvant now has a fully operational battery, releasing green energy from locally-harvested sunshine onto the national grid.

The solar asset became the first community-owned solar farm in Wales when a community share offer completed in 2017. Sales of green electricity from the farm will enable Community Benefit Society Gower Regeneration Ltd to support projects that benefit the local community.

The battery, partially funded by the European Regional Development Fund through Welsh Government, makes an Electric Vehicle (EV) charging facility on-site possible. 2 charging points enable EVs to access 22kw of power (far more than a home charging station, giving a faster charge) for just 6p per kilowatt hour.

Tesla battery storage unit at the Killan Fach Farm site (Image: Gower Power)

The power flowing from the battery into EVs is 100% green, either drawn directly from the solar panels on site, or, if supplies run low, topped up from other renewable sources.

The charge points can be used via the Podpoint app, easily installed on a smart phone. According to Podpoint, the “EV Charging Ecosystem” of the UK currently consists of 60% home charging points, 30% workplace charge points, just 7% at destinations like supermarkets, cinemas, shopping centres and public car parks and a mere 3% en route. The capacity of an EV battery is such that very long journeys need to be carefully planned to allow for top-ups, and more en-route charging is needed if the UK is going to make the switch to EV viable for many motorists.

The project has been welcomed by SPECIFIC, Swansea University’s Innovation and Knowledge Centre for energy technology research, whose Active Buildings work showcases the use of buildings themselves as power stations. Nigel Morris, EV Integration Manager said, “EV charging infrastructure is critical to reducing carbon emissions from transport. Adding EV charging into local energy generation and storage, as Gower Power has done here, is exactly in line with our Active Building principles.”

Solar Powered EV car charging point at Killen Fach Farm, Dunvant (Image: Gower Power)

Mark McKenna, Director of Down to Earth, a Gower based sustainability social enterprise, also welcomes the charge point. Recently awarded an MBE for services to young people and the environment, McKenna said: “There’s a real need for more EV Charge points on Gower and it’s critical to show how renewable energy generation needs to go hand-in-hand with electric vehicle charging. Combined with battery storage, this is a remarkable facility to have on the gateway to Gower and will build confidence in the public and businesses to go fully electric with their vehicles.”

Drivers need to know they have plenty of charging options before taking the plunge and switching their dirty old motor for a clean new EV. Swansea Council is expanding EV charging facilities through their car parks, and residents welcome a growing local network of charging stations.

Local EV driver Kate Denner said, “I used the charge points last week for the first time. They are great! No hassle at all. You download the PodPoint app; put credit in your account and charge away. For 75% charge, it cost £2.50…. I really appreciate being able to access this service so close to home.”

Users can locate the charge point on Killan Fach Farm via the PodPoint app.

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