Neath Port Talbot is Wales’ leader in renewable energy
Chart-topping Neath Port Talbot Council is the best ‘green energy’ local authority in Wales.
Latest Welsh Government figures show the council has the highest total renewable energy capacity and the greatest renewable energy generation across the country.
FLEXIS, led by Cardiff University, is supporting the authority’s Decarbonisation and Renewable Energy Strategy by applying its research to a physical site in the county – the FLEXIS demonstration area.
Professor Hywel Thomas, FLEXIS Principal Investigator, said: “We are delighted to be working so closely with Neath Port Talbot Borough Council on a number of traction projects contributing to a low carbon smart future. Job creation, addressing fuel poverty and air quality are all outcomes fundamental to FLEXIS research.”
FLEXIS and Neath Port Talbot Borough Council unveiled a number of clean, green energy projects at a demonstration area launch event in May.
One of the flagship plans involves using hydrogen generated from excess electricity to fuel vehicles from Neath Port Talbot’s new £7m Swansea Bay Technology Centre in Baglan Bay Energy Park, while another centres on an area-wide air quality monitoring programme.
During the welcome address, Cllr Edward V Latham, Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Engineering at Neath Port Talbot Council stated: “Neath Port Talbot Borough Council is delighted to have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the FLEXIS – a £24m programme research and innovation of energy systems technologies across Wales.”
The projects laid out in the MOU were outlined by Steven Phillips, Chief Operating Officer for Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council and include:
1. Smart Low Carbon Town – Port Talbot (Smart Local Energy Systems)
2. Electrical Grid Constraints
3. Swansea Bay Technology Centre / University of South Wales Hydrogen Centre
4. Low Emission Vehicles / Electrical Charging
5. Cefn Coed Colliery Museum
6. Mine Water Heat Recovery
7. Real-time Energy Modelling
8. Air Quality
FLEXIS researchers from Cardiff University, the University of South Wales and Swansea University are also working on, or have proposed, over 46 additional projects including: further development of low emission vehicles; using an energy data audit of the demonstration area to work out how to integrate, store and supply smart, clean energy; using ground-breaking ‘green-power’ system that uses ammonia to store and release zero-carbon energy; hydrogen and mine-water as heat for homes and communities; and working with industrial partners to de-risk the decarbonisation of heat.
The FLEXIS Social Science team are currently running ‘Energy Futures’ workshops with the Port Talbot community to explore how everyday life may change with a decarbonised energy system. Their findings will help FLEXIS demonstrator projects avoid risks and enhance the value to project stakeholders including the wider community.
FLEXIS recently appointed a Demonstration Area Project Manager Rhys Bowley, to lead on the demonstration area work. Rhys said: “Even though I’m an engineer and technical at heart, the social awareness and engagement with society highlighted as part of the FLEXIS project was a major selling point for me. Especially now that governments around the world are recognising a state of climate emergency, I wanted to work on a project with realistic and meaningful benefits in the near-term.”