Swedish wind power operator Vattenfall has been granted consent for the Pen Y Cymoedd project, between Neath and Aberdare.
Made up of 76 turbines, it would have the highest generating capacity of any onshore wind farm in England and Wales. The developer predicts that it will generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of up to 206,000 homes a year.
Output capacity of Pen Y Cymoedd is put at299MW by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and at 250MW by the developer.
It is estimated that capital expenditure required to construct the wind farm will be around £300m. Construction could begin next year, with first power generated in 2016. With three years of construction followed by 25 years of operation the scheme could pump £1bn into Wales’ economy, Vattenfall calculates.It would also increase Welsh renewable electricity generation by 37%.
The developer has committed to a community benefits package potentially worth more than £55m over the lifetime of the development, including £3m for habitat management and £6,000 a year per megawatt to a Community Trust Fund.
Giving his approval for the project, energy minister Charles Hendry said: “Onshore wind plays an important role in enhancing our energy security. It is the cheapest form of renewable energy and reduces our reliance on foreign fuel. This project in South Wales will generate vast amounts of home-grown renewable electricity and provide a significant benefits package for the local community.”
Vattenfall said that it would now ‘review the letter of consent in detail before committing to a forward programme for the proposal’.