Communities urged to tap into water power
The Welsh Government wants local groups to work with specialist companies to identify sites where community scale (less than 5MW) hydro schemes, which use water to generate renewable electricity, could be developed.
Forestry Commission Wales, which manages the Welsh Government's woodlands, opened the door to expressions of interest when it launched a hydro power project at the Snowdonia National Park Centre at Plas Tan-y-Bwlch, near Porthmadog.
Representatives of community groups, local authorities and commercial hydro-development companies heard of the potential benefits of hydro power in Welsh Government woodlands before visiting a scheme operating nearby on private land.
Environment and Sustainable Development Minister John Griffiths said generating renewable energy at a local level was one of the cornerstones for making low carbon energy a reality in Wales.
"Hydro electricity generation is a proven technology and already makes a meaningful contribution to Wales's energy generation mix. The Welsh Government is committed to leading the way in shaping a truly sustainable future for our children by reducing our CO2 emissions and dependence on fossil fuels."
It is hoped the project will enable communities to reap the economic rewards of being involved in the development of high quality hydro schemes that are sensitive to environmental and social factors.
Forestry Commission Wales is working closely with the Energy Saving Trust, Environment Agency Wales and the Countryside Council for Wales to push the project forward. The Commission is also talking to Ynni'r Fro - a European funded Community Renewables Project sponsored by the Welsh Government - to ensure that community groups can access technical and financial support to develop hydro projects.